Learning how to better serve autistic students at college

Michelle Ledesma Ceron, Staff Writer

October was Disability Awareness Month, designated to help open up many conversations addressing distinct things that make us, us. Madison College hosted a free film showing of the movie, “Autism Goes to College,” at the Truax Campus on Oct. 30.

In this film, viewers are introduced to five different students who are on the austism spectrum. These students give us an insight of their life as they encounter challenges trying to navigate their ways through college. They explain the ways they have had a hard time finding resources and acceptance for their disability, whether it be from their peers, classmates or even their educators. Parents and teachers of are also featured in this film.

About 30 people attended the screening and stayed for the Skype call with the executive producer of the film, Dr. Jan Blancher from The University of California. Dr. Blacher is also the director of SEARCH, a resource for families of autistic students. Blue, rectangular pieces of paper were distributed before the screening and collected afterwards, so the audience could anonymously share their questions and concerns.

Scott Ritter, the director of the college’s Disability Resource Center, opened the conversation with Dr. Blacher. He said that Madison College serves approximately 1,000 students with disabilities.

Dr. Blacher shared her knowledge based off the research she’s conducted. Reminding us how as a society, “We have just begun to recognize neurotransmitter disabilities.”

This film helped wrap up Disability Awareness Month by reminding us how invisible disabilities are just as important as those that can be easily observed.

When asked what her goal for this film was, Dr. Blacher replied “To increase awareness among faculty and administrators in college campuses. To recognize autism is not going away and diversity is something to be celebrated, embraced, and recognized by faculty.”