The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – A new program from UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) is preparing students with autism for life after high school.
Samuel L. Odom, FPG director said many students will face unemployment and a lack of social ties when they finish school.
Mr Odom continues to add that positive outcomes remain elusive because there are very few specific programs in high schools which are aimed at helping students with Autusm Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Mr Odom has joined with other scientists to form the Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (CSESA). He said
“Because of the complex educational needs of many students with ASD, it was important to develop a comprehensive program for high schools.”
CSESA focuses on understanding emotions, developing friendships, and social problem-solving. Kara Hume, CSESA’s project director and co-principal investigator said:
“Even a simple hallway ‘hello’ between students with autism and their peers is more likely now,”
CSESA also address literacy skills, a skill that many students with ASD are limited and Have difficulty with.
The program has helped Christopher Stickell to be included in an English class. Christopher’s father,Lois Stickell said:
“Not only did my son have access to a wider world than his self-contained classroom, but the students in the English class had some of their pre-conceived notions about autism shattered,”
Phyllis Alston, the exceptional children teacher for compliance at MPHS said that CSESA provides opportunities for collaboration and relationship building with families by them attending ‘Transitioning Together’ sessions each week.
Most complex programs may take up to 5 to 7 years to be put in place, but Mr Odom projects that they will be administering the program on their own within 2 ½ years.
“CSESA will expand to 60 more schools over the next 3 years,” he added. “We hope a lot more students with autism spectrum disorders will be able to leave high school better prepared for the challenges they’ll face.”
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