This post is now locked. Unfortunately, the post did not lead to the intended conversation on what parents and students might want a college to do for students with ASDs. I might try again in a few months. I need to write something that clearly explains what I am seeking to learn from students and parents.
As I prepare to relocate and start a new university position, I am also considering how I might advocate for current and future students. (Technically, the post is "official" in August -- but I don't foresee any complications.)
Professors are in a complicated position, because students are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). When I have received notification that a student has special needs, the disability services of the school only indicated what the needs were -- not the underlying reason for accommodations. Student privacy is paramount. In planning to work with students, I have to consider FERPA and any other applicable regulations.
I am trying to determine what a small, private university can do to serve the autism community. The university is known for business, mathematics, technology, and health science programs. It is not a liberal arts college. Even the "English Studies" program is within the School of Communication and Information Sciences.
Share your ideas and I'll spend the summer trying to develop a plan I can pitch to administrators and faculty over the coming year. In the meantime, I will be getting as involved as I can in local advocacy once my wife and I move. The adventure begins soon.
I will have to rely on persuasion to convince disabled student services and the university to work with me on any plan to serve students with autism spectrum disorders. However, I'm sure these arguments can be made. I am looking to other universities for inspiration, as well. There are several with "residential" autism support programs. As I tell my students, always borrow a good idea -- just be sure to credit the source.
What would you want a university to do to create an inviting atmosphere? What could I do to build a program that would attract students and their families? Help me create something special for university students.