a project of

Removing Access Barriers
for Autistic College Students
Sara Gardner, Program Manager, Autism Spectrum Navigators
Susan Gjolmesli, Director, Disability Resource Center
Bellevue College, Washington State, U.S.A.
Research Shows
 Youths with autism spectrum disorders
(ages 19-23) are less likely than those with
other disabilities to be employed or
enrolled in college
 Students with disabilities lack adequate self-
advocacy skills needed for success in the
postsecondary education setting
 Employment rate rises with family income
rates
Our Experiences
 Without additional access services, college
students with ASDs complete fewer classes, and
drop out of college at a higher rate
 College students with ASDs typically do not seek
out campus services or additional support from
instructors
 Even with an extraordinarily low cost program,
some families cannot access it for financial
reasons

What Parents Want
 Campus awareness about Autism
 Support for:
Communicating with peers
Mentoring
Orientation & Transitioning
Trained Specialists
Parental Involvement
What Students Want
 Connection with other students with ASDs
 Advocacy with instructors
 Instructors who are educated about ASDs
 Clearly organized assignments and syllabi
 Clear communication
 Organizational support

Before the pilot – what we observed
Share your experiences & questions:
 This may be different based on where
you live! Socio-economic background,
ethnicity, …
 Academic ability
 Physical ability
 Interests, aspirations
 Classroom access needs and more
Share your experiences & questions:
 Different for
each
 Environment
specific
 Attitudinal
barriers?


 Similarities?
 Physical barriers?
 Other barriers?



2010-2011(26 students)
Services Group (13 students)
100% retention
Maintained a 3.0 GPA for three quarters
Passed 85% of attempted classes with a C- or better

Control Group (13 students)
61% retention
GPA dropped each quarter: 2.52; 2.44; 2.10
Passed 67% of attempted classes with a C- or better

2011-2012 (18 students)
94% retention
3.04 GPA
Passed 87% of attempted classes with a C- or
better
2012 -2013 (46 students)
96% retention
3.26 GPA
Passed 86% of attempted classes with a C- or
better

2013 -2014
Fall 2013 (76 students)
96% retention
3.24 GPA
Passed 88% of attempted classes with a C- or
better
Winter 2014
(64 students – 1 grad, 8 retained- not in ASN, 3 dropped out)
97% retention
3.12 GPA
Passed 79% of attempted classes with a C-
or better
Our mission is to provide access services for
autistic students that lead to successful
academic outcomes while providing
educational opportunities that increase self-
knowledge in the areas of executive
functioning, self-regulation, social interaction,
self-advocacy and career preparation; and to
actively promote a campus wide environment
of inclusion and understanding of students,
faculty and staff with neurological differences.

Program Areas of Focus:
1. Self-Advocacy
2. Executive Functioning
3. Self Regulation
4. Social Interaction
Four components:
1. Peer Mentoring
2. Instruction
3. Parent Training & Support
4. Faculty & Campus Training &
Support


 Structured around student-identified
needs
 Student initiated check-ins with faculty
 Standardized format ensures:
skills acquisition
academic progress monitoring
program compliance
ease of record keeping
 Marco-Polo Check-In
 weekly agreed-upon objective

ASN students take a series of credit classes as a cohort, in
addition to classes for their chosen degree path. They are
simply students at the college who receive supports.
First Year
Skills for Navigating College & Career
Executive Functioning in the Workplace
Stress Management
Second Year Third Year
Career Exploration Interpersonal Communications
Self-Advocacy Tech Writing & Soft Skills for Bus.
Occupational Wellness Internship
Video: Using Canvas to connect
Parents need:
 Reassurance that their student is in good hands
 Training for how to best support their student
 Networking with other parents
 Focus on Interdependence, Collaborative Problem
Solving, Learned Optimism and Self-Efficacy
Regular Faculty training
Individual communication with N.A.’s
Faculty section on program website
Consultation with program manager

Postsecondary Educational Aspirations of High-
Functioning Adolescents With Autism Spectrum
Disorders and Their Parents:
http://moodle.capilanou.ca/pluginfile.php/197425/
mod_resource/content/1/Post-
Secondary%20Aspirations%20of%20High-
Functioning%20.pdf

Collaborative Efforts to Improve Access to
Postsecondary Education for Students with
Disabilities:
Report to the Legislature Pursuant to Substitute
Senate Bill 5180 (Washington Student Achievement
Council)

Postsecondary Education and Employment Among
Youth With an Autism Spectrum Disorder:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3
362908/

Evaluating Cognitive Web Accessibility
http://webaim.org/articles/evaluatingcognitive/

Autism Spectrum Navigators at Bellevue College
http://www.bellevuecollege.edu/autismspectrum
navigators/




Susan Gjolmesli, Director,
Disability Resource Center:
susan.gjolmesli@bellevuecollege.edu
425.564.2392

Sara Gardner, Program Manager,
Autism Spectrum Navigators:
sara.gardner@bellevuecollege.edu
425.564.2172



Website:
www.autismnow.org

Information & Referral Call Center:
1-855-828-8476

Next Webinar:
Saturday, June 21, 2014, 1:00-2:00 PM, Eastern Time
Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Overview in Spanish

PowerPoint/Recording:
Email Phuong (pnguyen@autismnow.org ) to request
materials!




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