University offers autism transition program for college students with autism

Charleston, Ill. — The Eastern Illinois University Autism Center has recently started the Students with Autism Transitional Education Program (STEP) to help individuals with autism transition into college smoothly.

Most students on the (correction) autism spectrum are often overwhelmed by drastic changes that comes with college life— and university officials at the Eastern Illinois University Autism Center hope they can help ease this problem for them through the STEP program.

According to Eastern Illinois University Autism Center Director Gail Richard:

“If you think about how it is for a normal student and how overwhelming it is, magnify that with high anxiety and hesitancy toward big crowds and new situations… It is overwhelming and can be paralyzing.”

STEP ensures that the students enrolled in the program are gradually introduced to every aspect of college life at the university— by helping them get familiar with the campuses and by setting their expectations on what is there to look forward to once the classes start.

Students with autism benefit from the program through the help of volunteer students from the university — whose main roles in STEP include providing support and mentoring the students with autism, and becoming their friends.

The university’s STEP program isn’t free, however. Students who wish to enroll in the program may do so for an added fee of $1,000.

Source: Jarad  Jarmon & Times-Courier, Associated Press: EXCHANGE Autism program only one of its kind in region