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Low Incidence

I have been informed that the university considers autism spectrum disorders a “low incidence” concern. Therefore, the university sees no reason to increase support resources for these students or to expand faculty and staff training. In other words, after a cost-benefit analysis it has been decided that there’s not enough benefit to be gained.

I suppose until someone pushes a demonstrable ADA claim or a bias case, the university can continue to ignore ASD’s unique complexities. Why bother investing in students who might have special skills?

Why would we want students with unusual abilities if they include complex needs? Much easier to ignore the unusual….

This month’s Wired magazine (March, 2008) includes mention of the special skills possessed by some autistics. Not merely the savants, but “regular” autistic individuals posses unique spatial and mathematical skills. The methods ASD students use to analyze problems sometimes provide new insights. Different brains produce different solutions.

But, ASD individuals are just difficult, apparently. Special services and dedicated support personnel are beyond the reach of the University of Minnesota: one of the most expensive state universities in the United States. Amazing. How can this institution, with its outrageous tuition, claim it lacks resources for disabled students?

Clearly, the university does not want students with unique gifts. What a shame that we are “low incidence” and therefore not an essential part of the student population. Sure, they will claim otherwise, but not providing adequate services send a clear message. I know the people in Disability Services share my disappointment.


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