The Parthenon

Autism training center leaving an impact on MU students

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With the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, many organizations are commemorating such a triumphant marker in the fight for civil rights of people with disabilities. Events in Washington, D.C. include celebrations on Capitol Hill and performances of soloists with disabilities at the Kennedy Center. 

I myself am diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high functioning Autism. As a person with a disability, I would like to commemorate the anniversary of the ADA by showing my greatest gratitude to the Autism Training Center at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, which has aided me throughout the past 4 years during my tenure as a student at Marshall. 

Marshall University’s Autism Training Center is a program that aids university students with any form of Autism with their struggles.  The staff includes several professional workers as well as graduate students who act as assistants to the students.

The staff helps students to get organized as well as provide transportation to wherever they need to go such as shopping for groceries or other necessities.  These graduate assistants, or G.A.s for short, also act as proctors for any exams that the students are taking, and they also are in charge of any social events within the program, such as the annual Halloween party, or a night out at the movies. 

Aside from these social gatherings, the Autism Center also offers a study hall that operates daily.  The students may use that time to get through any homework that they may not be able to complete in the dorm room without being distracted. 

Not only does the Autism training program helps the students within the program become successful and work through their struggles, it also prepares them for the real world.

For example, it works closely with the Marshall University Student Center for career service training to help students find employment opportunities.  When the students are looking for jobs, they can say they have a university-level education.

With the ADA in effect, my belief is that the Autism Training Center at Marshall can and may have already taken the opportunities offered by the ADA to help further the success of students with Autism who want to go into the working world and find employment opportunities. 

Since this program helps Marshall Students with Autism find jobs and thus lead successful and independent lives, it gives them an opportunity to achieve the same goals as the students without disabilities. Here, Marshall University’s Autism Center offers an opportunity that most people don’t have.  Generally young adults with Autism experience more difficulty transitioning into the work world than people without disabilities, and this is something I know from experience.  This is very much true considering that in West Virginia; approximately 25% of people with disabilities of working age are employed as opposed to the 73% that are unemployed.  The Autism Program helps make that transition into the working world a bit easier for young adults, because they’ve had the support and training necessary to make the successful transition. 

With the ADA in effect, my belief is that the Autism Training Center at Marshall can and may have already taken the opportunities offered by the ADA to help further the success of students with Autism who want to go into the working world and find employment opportunities.  My hope is that if more universities adopt the same Autism Training Program that Marshall has, then all autistic young adults can hope to achieve the American dream and make lives of their own, and that more employers can look at hiring young adults with Autism who have received the training at Marshall who are ready to find their place in the world.    For more information on how you can help, visit our website for more details.

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