It is often challenging for neurotypical individuals to understand certain things about autism or what it is like to be on the autism spectrum. As a result, many people with autism may be met with confusion, uncertainty, or unacceptance because the people around them misinterpret their actions. While difficult to do, bridging this gap is not impossible, and a recent training intervention from a professor at the University of Virginia aims to prove it.
Professor Vikram Jaswal at the University of Virginia has created a class that aims to help a small cohort of current college students understand people with autism and their actions a bit better. By allowing students to interact with a group of young adults on the spectrum – who call themselves “The Tribe” – and discuss issues pertaining to autism, the students gain a greater understanding of what it is like to have the condition and reflect on their own personal beliefs about ASD. These range from debates over the potential value of a cure, to finding someone to love. Some of the students have even used the experience to understand and grow closer
Some of the students have even used the experience to understand and grow closer to their siblings on the spectrum. One student, Diogo Fortis, made specific note of how these conversation opportunities changed how he thought about his relationship with his older brother. He expressed that, “…it made me realize that my own brother could have…dreams and aspirations” and made him ponder “…what I have I missed during 19 years of my life?” Those with ASD have also enjoyed the opportunity to connect with their neurotypical peers and, according to Jaswal, will be a group he will continue to consult for ideas on future research in this area.
Learn more about the initiative through the button below, and check out our CAN Do College Project here to share your own stories about being on the spectrum in college!