College & Career Success on the Autism Spectrum

College & Career Success on the Autism Spectrum

ASD symposium shares valuable resources

Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 88 children, making ASD the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S., according to Autism Speaks. Dakota County Technical College hosted Advancing with Autism: A Blueprint to Success Beyond High School, Dec. 14, 2012, a symposium made possible through a grant from Autism Speaks. Experts in the field shared resources with students, families and educators about the transition through life for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Stephen Shore, the event’s featured speaker, told attendees about his personal experience with Asperger syndrome. Undeterred by a diagnosis of atypical development and strong autistic tendencies, Shore went on to become a professor at Adelphi University. Shore focused his research on meeting the needs of people with autism. He has published three books, recently released a DVD, and presented in 28 countries to raise awareness about autism.

During the symposium, a panel of four DCTC students explained their personal struggles and successes related to attending college as students with autism. Devin Flagg, an accounting student, gave a presentation, “Top 10 Tips for Surviving College,” that sparked the interest of Christopher Magan, a Pioneer Press reporter.

Autism symposium offers support for young people heading to college, careers by Christopher Magan

When Deborah Gee-Tritschler’s son, Devin Flagg, was diagnosed with autism at age 3, she wasn’t given much hope for his future.

“I was told he needed to be put in a mental hospital and I should find myself a career,” said Gee-Tritschler, an Apple Valley resident. “I wasn’t about to give up on a 3-year-old.”

Twenty years later, Gee-Tritschler looked on proudly as Flagg presented success tips for other college students who have Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

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For more than 10 years, DCTC has offered programs to support low-income, first-generation college students as well as students with disabilities. The programs include tutoring, providing accommodations for disabilities and teaching study skills. “Not only does DCTC have programs for specific student needs, we have several partners to reach out to,” said Dora Schumacher, TRiO director at the college and the organizer of the symposium.

DCTC autism spectrum disorder (ASD) partners such as AuSM, Fraser, Vocational Rehabilitation and  Opportunity Partners also attended the symposium to share their expertise during a series of breakout sessions and a community resource panel discussion. The organizations help individuals achieve successful educational endeavors and eventual gainful employment.

“Whatever the student needs, we will find the resources,” said Schumacher, who also remarked on the large number of parents in attendance. “Parents are one of the main reasons we held this symposium,” she said. “Parents don’t know where to turn to help their children on the spectrum. I wanted all the best resources in one room so parents can get what they need in one shot—and that happened. The result was quite gratifying.”

 For more information about autism spectrum disorder and TRiO Student Support Services at DCTC, contact:

1 Comment

  • Camila Graul says:

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