Education of autistic students and preparing them for life after school were the big topics at the National Autism Conference at Penn State last week. More than 2,000 teachers, people with autism, parents of autistic children and others attended the five-day Pennsylvania conference. One researcher told attendees that high school is the time to start teaching the independence needed for college and beyond.
Dr. Janet Graetz, assistant professor of human development and child studies at Oakland University in Michigan, presented a session on her study that followed 19 college students with Asperger’s syndrome.
Graetz found that students living with Asperger’s exercised less, had high anxiety levels and failed to take advantage of campus disability resources as the school year went on.
She stressed the importance of teaching independence in high school to students with disorders like Asperger’s syndrome.
“Students in high school must be taught self-advocacy,” Graetz said. “The best thing you can do for your student who is younger is to teach them about self-advocacy.”