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Realizing the College Dream with Autism

The book club selection for the Autism Spectrum Disorders site for June 2006 will be Realizing the College Dream with Autism or Asperger Syndrome by Ann Palmer. A parent's guide to student success. I purchased this book to prepare for my son Nicholas, who is eleven years of age and not yet in middle school. Nothing like being prepared ahead of time!

This is a paperback issue from Jessica Kingsley Publishers, which was released in November 2005. There are nine chapters and two Appendixes to explore. Eric Palmer is the inspiration for this book that came about after he was accepted into college and word spread within the autism community of this accomplishment.

Realizing the College Dream with Autism or Asperger Syndrome begins with a preface and introduction before the chapters. Here is where the author explains the book is not about curing autism. Eric still has autism and has lived in a dormitory and attend college. Eric also self-stims on occasion and prefers to be alone and talk to himself.

Starting Out: Diagnosis and the Early Years - this chapter covers the experience of Elementary and Middle school.

Strategies for the High School Years - here you learn about the transition plan, Eric working at the school library, social skills and the ITP team.

Making the Decision about College - visiting college campuses, disabilities service program and questions to ask, business schools, technical or trade schools are explored.

Everything Yu Need to Know about Life: A Summer of Lessons - safety, health and academic issues to cover, Self-help skills, time management and the resource notebook are covered in detail.

Adjusting To the Move - Buying items for the dorm room, moving day and unpacking. This is a quick chapter under ten pages.

Supports and Strategies in College - services and accommodations, single room, early registration, peer support program, seating needs and tape recording lessons are explored.

Self-Awareness and the Issue of Self-Disclosure - self-determination skills, self-advocacy issues, disclosure form and learning styles are discussed.

Positives of the College Experience- anxiety and making choices in this learning experience.

What Come's Next? - building a future career by developing interests, career counselor's advice, realistic goals and adult service providers and agencies services are explored.

There is an appendix of useful books and websites plus a sample disclosure form. Then there are resources and an index. There are no charts, graphs or photos within the pages of Realizing the College Dream with Autism or Asperger Syndrome.

This seems like a book to peruse over the summer and discuss at length with the person on the spectrum who wishes to attend college someday. This is useful for families to gain insight from a family that has experienced this.

My son Nicholas is eleven, but we often talk about where he will go to high school and the types of jobs he would like to have. He too wants to volunteer during the high school years. Most likely it would be at the Humane Society. He wants to work with animals in some capacity. We are not sure if a dormitory is something he wants to do, although he often says he will have three to five cats when he is twenty-one. Since I had him repeat first grade he will be nineteen by the time he finishes high school.

My son on the Autism Spectrum is looking forward to working and going to college.

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June 2006


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