A Brief History of the Origin of the Program and Why the Program Was Established
In Consideration of a Comprehensive Program at Ancilla College for Capable Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
In early discussions regarding the establishment of a program to assist those with ASD, this “white paper” was developed to provide information to the Ancilla College community and beyond. We briefly review the following: characteristics of ASD; diagnosis of ASD, educational programs, the origins of the “Asperger” designation; a summary of existing college programs at four year institutions and a brief summary of data on ASD. This white paper describes the rationale for establishing APAC designed to serve capable college students with ASD.
Those with ASD exhibit the following:
Children with autism may also have accompanying learning problems and receive special education services, when autism is diagnosed.
Diagnosis of ASD has the following contextual elements:
Not all those with ASD show evidence of all of these symptoms. There is a wide variance in how these symptoms are displayed across individuals-a variance which explains the difficulty in diagnosis.
Finally, those with ASD often display unusual skills such as an ability to engage with intense focus on a task. Ample evidence exists that some with ASD can learn communication and social interaction strategies using those gifts and lead productive and even high functioning lives.
As with most conditions, there is no one best “treatment”. The overall goal of the Autism Program at Ancilla College (APAC) is to create a supportive environment and assist those with ASD to enhance their ability to function effectively in social interactions, thereby maximizing their potential to learn and lead productive lives.
Critical features of educational programming include
Additional medical treatment for, e.g. anxiety disorder and depression may also be an option
An Austrian pediatrician (Asperger) in 1944 worked extensively with four children who showed evidence of the following:
In 1981, an English physician, Lorna Wing published a series of case studies with like symptoms. Wing’s writings became well known in the 1990’s. Recent historical research as detailed in a book entitled Neurotribes indicates that the condition now known as ASD may have been recognized much earlier.
Diagnosis of ASD is an imprecise art. Certain features of the disorder may differ for those who exhibit high levels of functioning and Asperger’s-but the treatments and educational processes may be the same.
ASD also presents with a complex composite of physical, emotional, intellectual and neurological factors that differs with each individual.
Currently, there are a number of programs to serve students with ASD:
AIM is one of several national models for four year programs. AIM is one of the oldest and established programs for serving college students with ASD. (for further information, Google the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM))
In the past several years, numerous other institutions have been in the process of establishing additional programs and services to serve students with ASD.
“Autism Spectrum Disorders is a group of developmental disabilities characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication and by restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior . . .The complex nature of these disorders, coupled with a lack of biologic markers for diagnosis and changes in clinical definitions over time, creates challenges in the (precise) monitoring of the prevalence of ASD.. . .Information (was) obtained from children’s evaluation records at any time from birth through the end of the year when a child reaches 8 years. . .” (CDC, 2012)
The CDC report indicates the following:
Creation of a comprehensive program will involve at least the following:
Why has Ancilla College made such a strong commitment to the program?