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Autism spectrum students get welcome at more colleges


(CBS) Autistic kids can't succeed at college? Try telling that to the many colleges and universities that have recently established special programs to help students with Asperger syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders.

More than a dozen colleges in the U.S. now have such programs, according to College Autism Spectrum.

"Colleges are seeing more people with autism spectrum disorders, the kinds of people who, in the past, wouldn't have gone on to college," Felicia Hurewitz, director of the autism support program at Drexel University, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We have a lot of diversity. Neurodiversity is the newest."

Where else are asperger support programs being offered? Rutgers offers students with autism spectrum disorders special faculty support and other accommodations, including the ability to live in a single room, according to Rutgers' Focus magazine. And at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., autistic students have access to weekly group counseling sessions and graduate-student mentors who share quiet meals.

"It's a monumental thing to be graduating from college with this disorder. I learned to never give up on myself, Jon Dorfman, a 22-year-old senior with Asperger syndrome at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, told the Inquirer.

Asperger syndrome is one of several autism spectrum disorders, which affect about 1 in 110 children in the U.S. People with Asperger syndrome tend to have difficulties interacting with others - they may raise their hands constantly and disrupt class, or ignore classmates' social cues. But many people with the disorder are highly intelligent.

The National Library of Medicine has more on Asperger syndrome.

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