the podcast series

Listen in to find out how neurodiverse students are managing at college, sometimes charting their own paths, taking creative approaches, and making it work!

Produced by Jesús Alvarado, Jody Becker & Erik Linthorst

the podcast series

Listen in to find out how neurodiverse students are managing at college, sometimes charting their own paths, taking creative approaches, and making it work!

Produced by Jesús Alvarado, Jody Becker & Erik Linthorst

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PODCAST EPISODE 32:

Bryson's taking his talents to CTC

Career Training Centers offer students on the spectrum experiential learning in ways that can prepare them for college or work. At Miller CTC in Los Angeles, high school graduates or students with a GED can explore training in everything from auto detailing and repair to professional baking and food service, retail, landscaping, and even media arts - including behind-the-camera work and digital editing. Bryson is in his second year at Miller, an LAUSD public school, where he says the programs are excellent, the social opportunities have been extremely beneficial and he's already enrolled in one class at Pierce College, with the goal of transferring there next year. Bryson talks about his experience, along with one of his teachers Cindy McGee, who explains the range of what the school and Miller community has to offer to students on the spectrum looking for their next step.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 31:

Accommodations are available. Just ask.

Students on the spectrum often decide that because college is a fresh start, they aren't going to ask for accomodations before classes even begin. Instead, better to see how it goes, and ask for accommodations if needed. That makes sense, but in real life, it's sometimes hard to fix a situation or make it work better on the fly. That's the observation of Dr. Maria Keller, Associate Director of Disabled Student Services at UCRiverside. Better, she says, is to put the accommodations in place from day one, and if it turns out you don't need them, that's great. Getting accommodations in a hurry can be more of a challenge, and can't change previous academic outcomes - like test scores. Dr. Keller was in the documentary film Autism Goes to College, and she says since the film was made, campus culture has really shifted. Hear all about how UCR is evolving programs and policies focused on inclusivity for neurodiverse students and even modeling campus cultural shifts for other colleges.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 30:

First semester, take a lighter load

Preston looked at four-year colleges, but he was hearing about typical students getting overwhelmed by the course load and the adjustment to college life. So he decided to start out at a community college and take two classes to start. He chose one language arts class and one math class for the first semester, and he joined the Media Arts Club, which is giving him hands-on experience producing a news show. This winter, he's adding a part-time job. He's gotten the hang of commuting by bus five days a week. In this episode, Preston talks about what made his fall semester a "perfect experience." He says he's feeling confident about adding another class this winter and starting to think about how his credits will transfer to a four-year school to finish his bachelor's degree.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 29:

FTW: New study reveals how autistic college students define success

Data recently collected from over 400 college students on the spectrum shows that most feel protecting their mental health is nearly as important as getting good grades and graduating. The typical college goals are not so surprising, according to Professor Brett Nachman, an autism self-advocate and education researcher at the University of Arkansas. "But the findings about prioritizing mental health, finding friends, and avoiding burnout are significant. Students are saying success is important but not at the expense of their mental health." In the first wave of the study, Nachman's team, led by Dr. Brad Cox at Michigan State University, has collected data from students on the spectrum at over 100 colleges and universities around the country. It’s the largest data set provided by students on the spectrum to date. But it's not just academic. The team plans to use the data to help colleges and faculty understand what autistic students are looking for in their college experiences and how to help autistic students find success. One goal, Nachman says, is to help universities see the growing number of students with autism on campus as an opportunity, not an issue.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 28:

Going for his degree in Canada

Gerry Campbell is working his way towards a bachelor's degree at Lethbridge University in Alberta with wit and determination. A little more than a decade ago, when Gerry was in high school, Canadian students on the spectrum were segregated into special ed classes and left high school with a certificate, with no option for a diploma. But Gerry wanted more and enrolled first in Lethbridge College in Alberta where he could start chipping away at required courses for college entry to bring his basic skills in English and math up so he could find success in college. Along the way, professors have helped him with study strategies and even with the transition to a four-year university this fall. He has enjoyed a lot of academic success. Gerry is a huge history buff and a rugby player, he served on the student council, and he's a guy with a loom who has made dozens of peace and reconciliation scarves for indigenous classmates. Gerry has been on this path towards his bachelor's degree for about 8 years. He loves learning, the community, and sharing his story in hopes of inspiring others.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 27:

Your professors are learning more about students on the spectrum

Aubry Mintz teaches animation at Cal State Long Beach. He's great at supporting neurodiverse students, and if you've seen the documentary, Autism Goes to College, his voice and approach in this ep will be familiar. Among his colleagues, Aubry's been advocating for more awareness of how to best support neurodiverse students for years. Now he shares how his campus has grown its services, broadened approaches, and gone further to encourage every faculty member to have conversations with students about what would be helpful. As Aubry says, it's not all about pointing people towards the students' services office. It's about what teachers can do in their classrooms by getting to know their students better.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 26:

BACK TO SCHOOL WITH A FIFTH YEAR SENIOR

Jake G. is heading into his final year at Concordia College in Austin, TX after a very busy summer taking a class and doing a remote internship. Jake figured out early on in college that the best way for him to maintain his high GPA was to get a reduced class load accommodation. He's taken 10 credit units each semester, and that's made the workload manageable. Now as a fifth-year senior, he's taking a few more classes in his marketing major, continuing to pursue his music, and focusing on building a strong network to help him land a job after graduation. For everyone headed back to school this fall, Jake has a hack he's used that could be helpful: if possible, get a look at the class syllabus even before classes begin, and start studying. Summer is over.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 25:

PODCAST EPISODE 25:

PODCAST EPISODE 25:

What kind of supports should you seek? Accommodations? An OT? Both?

What kind of supports should you seek? Accommodations? An OT? Both?

What kind of supports should you seek? Accommodations? An OT? Both?

For college students on the spectrum, it's hard to predict what might be challenging. Some folks are academically capable, feel comfortable with accomodations, and find social stuff difficult. Others may be easy with social interactions, but find it hard to manage time and keep classwork organized. Procrastination can create stress and anxiety. One way to get extra support is to find an OT. OTs are occupational therapists - trained to help anyone navigate their days by figuring out what's not working and collaborating with you to come up with strategies to make it easier. Karen Keptner is an OT and a professor of OT, and in this episode she talks with Katharine about what kinds of support OTs can provide, how to find one on or off campus, and how to pay for services with insurance.

For college students on the spectrum, it's hard to predict what might be challenging. Some folks are academically capable, feel comfortable with accomodations, and find social stuff difficult. Others may be easy with social interactions, but find it hard to manage time and keep classwork organized. Procrastination can create stress and anxiety. One way to get extra support is to find an OT. OTs are occupational therapists - trained to help anyone navigate their days by figuring out what's not working and collaborating with you to come up with strategies to make it easier. Karen Keptner is an OT and a professor of OT, and in this episode she talks with Katharine about what kinds of support OTs can provide, how to find one on or off campus, and how to pay for services with insurance.

For college students on the spectrum, it's hard to predict what might be challenging. Some folks are academically capable, feel comfortable with accomodations, and find social stuff difficult. Others may be easy with social interactions, but find it hard to manage time and keep classwork organized. Procrastination can create stress and anxiety. One way to get extra support is to find an OT. OTs are occupational therapists - trained to help anyone navigate their days by figuring out what's not working and collaborating with you to come up with strategies to make it easier. Karen Keptner is an OT and a professor of OT, and in this episode she talks with Katharine about what kinds of support OTs can provide, how to find one on or off campus, and how to pay for services with insurance.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 24:

PODCAST EPISODE 24:

PODCAST EPISODE 24:

Tony has landed. He's happy at St. Mary's

Tony has landed. He's happy at St. Mary's

Tony has landed. He's happy at St. Mary's

If you've been following Tony's college path, this episode will be a satisfying listen.

In short: He was admitted to St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA. and it feels good. He switched majors from Business to Econ. He's got an apartment. He cooks. Well, sometimes. He admits there might be a GrubHub addiction starting, due to a student discount. But mostly he has a lot to say about the accommodations at St. Mary's which have been great for him. So good that he wanted to bring Julie Scaff, Director of Student Disability Services on the podcast with him to talk about the peer student success mentors, internship opportunities and other supports the school offers to students on the spectrum, and others with learning differences. Hear how Tony navigated his way to the right college after a couple of false starts.

If you've been following Tony's college path, this episode will be a satisfying listen.

In short: He was admitted to St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA. and it feels good. He switched majors from Business to Econ. He's got an apartment. He cooks. Well, sometimes. He admits there might be a GrubHub addiction starting, due to a student discount. But mostly he has a lot to say about the accommodations at St. Mary's which have been great for him. So good that he wanted to bring Julie Scaff, Director of Student Disability Services on the podcast with him to talk about the peer student success mentors, internship opportunities and other supports the school offers to students on the spectrum, and others with learning differences. Hear how Tony navigated his way to the right college after a couple of false starts.

If you've been following Tony's college path, this episode will be a satisfying listen.

In short: He was admitted to St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA. and it feels good. He switched majors from Business to Econ. He's got an apartment. He cooks. Well, sometimes. He admits there might be a GrubHub addiction starting, due to a student discount. But mostly he has a lot to say about the accommodations at St. Mary's which have been great for him. So good that he wanted to bring Julie Scaff, Director of Student Disability Services on the podcast with him to talk about the peer student success mentors, internship opportunities and other supports the school offers to students on the spectrum, and others with learning differences. Hear how Tony navigated his way to the right college after a couple of false starts.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 23:

PODCAST EPISODE 23:

PODCAST EPISODE 23:

Academics, community + the deciding factor: A college aligned with my intentions

Academics, community + the deciding factor: A college aligned with my intentions

Academics, community + the deciding factor: A college aligned with my intentions

River was pretty clear about the kind of school that would work for them: Strong academics and a school community aligned with their intention to make a difference in the world. Also important: affinity and support groups for them as a student with autism who identifies as LGBTQ. With a short college list that grew -and later contracted, there were high hopes, some rejection, an Early Decision 2 application, a safety school that came through with a scholarship, and a final decision that feels like a great fit. One bit of advice they heard, but didn't take- Start on your personal statement essays during the summer. River talks that, and their whole high school senior year in the college application and decision process.

River was pretty clear about the kind of school that would work for them: Strong academics and a school community aligned with their intention to make a difference in the world. Also important: affinity and support groups for them as a student with autism who identifies as LGBTQ. With a short college list that grew -and later contracted, there were high hopes, some rejection, an Early Decision 2 application, a safety school that came through with a scholarship, and a final decision that feels like a great fit. One bit of advice they heard, but didn't take- Start on your personal statement essays during the summer. River talks that, and their whole high school senior year in the college application and decision process.

River was pretty clear about the kind of school that would work for them: Strong academics and a school community aligned with their intention to make a difference in the world. Also important: affinity and support groups for them as a student with autism who identifies as LGBTQ. With a short college list that grew -and later contracted, there were high hopes, some rejection, an Early Decision 2 application, a safety school that came through with a scholarship, and a final decision that feels like a great fit. One bit of advice they heard, but didn't take- Start on your personal statement essays during the summer. River talks that, and their whole high school senior year in the college application and decision process.

River eating an apple
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PODCAST EPISODE 22:

PODCAST EPISODE 22:

PODCAST EPISODE 22:

DUAL DIAGNOSIS On the spectrum, and deaf, Taylor, 22, leans in to college

DUAL DIAGNOSIS On the spectrum, and deaf, Taylor, 22, leans in to college

DUAL DIAGNOSIS On the spectrum, and deaf, Taylor, 22, leans in to college

Taylor aged out of school-based programs last summer. Finding a path to college has been challenging, so far. But her mom, Eraina Ferguson is determined. Taylor uses American Sign Language to communicate. Right now, she is working on life skills and soon starts a part-time job at Howdy's Homemade, an ice cream shop chain that intentionally trains and hires employees with disabilities. And all along Eraina and Taylor are keeping their sights set on a college experience when the time is right. Already Taylor has taken some online classes through Wake Tech Community College in North Carolina. Next, she may attend some classes in person, and eventually hopes to transfer to Gallaudet, a college for deaf students in Washington, D.C. Hear Eraina and Taylor explain their steps, and the inspiration they drew from the first screening of the documentary film Autism Goes to College.

Taylor aged out of school-based programs last summer. Finding a path to college has been challenging, so far. But her mom, Eraina Ferguson is determined. Taylor uses American Sign Language to communicate. Right now, she is working on life skills and soon starts a part-time job at Howdy's Homemade, an ice cream shop chain that intentionally trains and hires employees with disabilities. And all along Eraina and Taylor are keeping their sights set on a college experience when the time is right. Already Taylor has taken some online classes through Wake Tech Community College in North Carolina. Next, she may attend some classes in person, and eventually hopes to transfer to Gallaudet, a college for deaf students in Washington, D.C. Hear Eraina and Taylor explain their steps, and the inspiration they drew from the first screening of the documentary film Autism Goes to College.

Taylor aged out of school-based programs last summer. Finding a path to college has been challenging, so far. But her mom, Eraina Ferguson is determined. Taylor uses American Sign Language to communicate. Right now, she is working on life skills and soon starts a part-time job at Howdy's Homemade, an ice cream shop chain that intentionally trains and hires employees with disabilities. And all along Eraina and Taylor are keeping their sights set on a college experience when the time is right. Already Taylor has taken some online classes through Wake Tech Community College in North Carolina. Next, she may attend some classes in person, and eventually hopes to transfer to Gallaudet, a college for deaf students in Washington, D.C. Hear Eraina and Taylor explain their steps, and the inspiration they drew from the first screening of the documentary film Autism Goes to College.

Dom Z standing in front of Bridgewater State University
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PODCAST EPISODE 21:

PODCAST EPISODE 21:

PODCAST EPISODE 21:

My part time job prepared me for college

My part time job prepared me for college

My part time job prepared me for college

Dom Z. is a student at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. He’s a commuter student now and looking forward to moving into the dorms in the fall. He loves college and says he owes his college success so far to two ways he got himself ready: A semester at a community college, and his part-time job at Target. Dom shares that in the past he’d had a hard time controlling his emotions, but learning how to navigate co-workers, customers and his bosses was great practice for college life. Dom talks with Katharine about how his work experience led to social successes on campus, and his academic goals.

Dom Z. is a student at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. He’s a commuter student now and looking forward to moving into the dorms in the fall. He loves college and says he owes his college success so far to two ways he got himself ready: A semester at a community college, and his part-time job at Target. Dom shares that in the past he’d had a hard time controlling his emotions, but learning how to navigate co-workers, customers and his bosses was great practice for college life. Dom talks with Katharine about how his work experience led to social successes on campus, and his academic goals.

Dom Z. is a student at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. He’s a commuter student now and looking forward to moving into the dorms in the fall. He loves college and says he owes his college success so far to two ways he got himself ready: A semester at a community college, and his part-time job at Target. Dom shares that in the past he’d had a hard time controlling his emotions, but learning how to navigate co-workers, customers and his bosses was great practice for college life. Dom talks with Katharine about how his work experience led to social successes on campus, and his academic goals.

Dom Z standing in front of Bridgewater State University
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PODCAST EPISODE 20:

PODCAST EPISODE 20:

PODCAST EPISODE 20:

A PhD student on the spectrum studying neurodivergent young adults' varied paths to success

A PhD student on the spectrum studying neurodivergent young adults' varied paths to success

A PhD student on the spectrum studying neurodivergent young adults' varied paths to success

Looking back at her undergraduate experience, Katharine O'Brien says it's a lot easier, now, to understand how it was going. Overall she had a wonderful experience at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Academics were challenging but in a good way. Social experiences were often challenging, too, but often in a not-so-good way. That's partly because Katharine didn't have an autism diagnosis until after she graduated from college, and never had the insight that she might need extra support- or the opportunity to ask for it. She graduated, worked in the medical field for a while, then decided to pivot from her original professional aspirations and go back to school for a master's degree at the Harvard School of Education. The experience changed Katharine's path in many ways, and in this episode, Katharine explains the decision to go back for more college, and eventually pursue a Ph.D. focused on the education, and post-school life of young adults on the spectrum. O'Brien says that so far, there are no maps for neurodivergent young adults to mark the way and milestones of success. At UCRiverside Katharine is researching these questions, and talks about her college experiences, and her work.

Looking back at her undergraduate experience, Katharine O'Brien says it's a lot easier, now, to understand how it was going. Overall she had a wonderful experience at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Academics were challenging but in a good way. Social experiences were often challenging, too, but often in a not-so-good way. That's partly because Katharine didn't have an autism diagnosis until after she graduated from college, and never had the insight that she might need extra support- or the opportunity to ask for it. She graduated, worked in the medical field for a while, then decided to pivot from her original professional aspirations and go back to school for a master's degree at the Harvard School of Education. The experience changed Katharine's path in many ways, and in this episode, Katharine explains the decision to go back for more college, and eventually pursue a Ph.D. focused on the education, and post-school life of young adults on the spectrum. O'Brien says that so far, there are no maps for neurodivergent young adults to mark the way and milestones of success. At UCRiverside Katharine is researching these questions, and talks about her college experiences, and her work.

Looking back at her undergraduate experience, Katharine O'Brien says it's a lot easier, now, to understand how it was going. Overall she had a wonderful experience at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Academics were challenging but in a good way. Social experiences were often challenging, too, but often in a not-so-good way. That's partly because Katharine didn't have an autism diagnosis until after she graduated from college, and never had the insight that she might need extra support- or the opportunity to ask for it. She graduated, worked in the medical field for a while, then decided to pivot from her original professional aspirations and go back to school for a master's degree at the Harvard School of Education. The experience changed Katharine's path in many ways, and in this episode, Katharine explains the decision to go back for more college, and eventually pursue a Ph.D. focused on the education, and post-school life of young adults on the spectrum. O'Brien says that so far, there are no maps for neurodivergent young adults to mark the way and milestones of success. At UCRiverside Katharine is researching these questions, and talks about her college experiences, and her work.

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PODCAST EPISODE 19:

PODCAST EPISODE 19:

PODCAST EPISODE 19:

getting in

getting in

2022-23 Update on Choosing the right college

College admissions have changed in some significant ways since the pandemic. Hear important updates from Eric Endlich, a college admissions counselor who works mostly with students on the spectrum. He's got new insights about the relevance of standardized tests now; what colleges are looking for; application and essay strategies and what students on the spectrum should look for when they start applying and visiting schools.

College admissions have changed in some significant ways since the pandemic. Hear important updates from Eric Endlich, a college admissions counselor who works mostly with students on the spectrum. He's got new insights about the relevance of standardized tests now; what colleges are looking for; application and essay strategies and what students on the spectrum should look for when they start applying and visiting schools.

College admissions have changed in some significant ways since the pandemic. Hear important updates from Eric Endlich, a college admissions counselor who works mostly with students on the spectrum. He's got new insights about the relevance of standardized tests now; what colleges are looking for; application and essay strategies and what students on the spectrum should look for when they start applying and visiting schools.

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PODCAST EPISODE 18:

PODCAST EPISODE 18:

PODCAST EPISODE 18:

getting in

getting in

getting in

The questions and stresses around college applications, essays, and admissions get a lot of attention every fall. Students on the spectrum may feel especially anxious or challenged about how to approach the process, and whether or not to reveal or even write about their diagnosis. Other questions students have might include: Are there accommodations that kick in as early as the application process? And what about the pros and cons of an in-person visit? To demystify the process, and offer insights on how to take on the admissions process, this episode features a conversation with admissions officials from two very different colleges. Emily Engleschall is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services and longtime admissions advisor at UC Riverside and Cathy Finks is the Executive Director of Admissions at the College of Wooster, a smaller private liberal arts college in Wooster, Ohio.

The questions and stresses around college applications, essays, and admissions get a lot of attention every fall. Students on the spectrum may feel especially anxious or challenged about how to approach the process, and whether or not to reveal or even write about their diagnosis. Other questions students have might include: Are there accommodations that kick in as early as the application process? And what about the pros and cons of an in-person visit? To demystify the process, and offer insights on how to take on the admissions process, this episode features a conversation with admissions officials from two very different colleges. Emily Engleschall is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services and longtime admissions advisor at UC Riverside and Cathy Finks is the Executive Director of Admissions at the College of Wooster, a smaller private liberal arts college in Wooster, Ohio.

The questions and stresses around college applications, essays, and admissions get a lot of attention every fall. Students on the spectrum may feel especially anxious or challenged about how to approach the process, and whether or not to reveal or even write about their diagnosis. Other questions students have might include: Are there accommodations that kick in as early as the application process? And what about the pros and cons of an in-person visit? To demystify the process, and offer insights on how to take on the admissions process, this episode features a conversation with admissions officials from two very different colleges. Emily Engleschall is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services and longtime admissions advisor at UC Riverside and Cathy Finks is the Executive Director of Admissions at the College of Wooster, a smaller private liberal arts college in Wooster, Ohio.

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PODCAST EPISODE 17:

PODCAST EPISODE 17:

PODCAST EPISODE 17:

behind the scenes WITH FIRST NONSPEAKING UC BERKELEY GRAD

behind the scenes WITH FIRST NONSPEAKING UC BERKELEY GRAD

behind the scenes WITH FIRST NONSPEAKING UC BERKELEY GRAD

David Teplitz was determined to go to UC Berkeley, and he did it, graduating in May with a degree in political science. David is on the spectrum and has severe apraxia. That means -- in his case-- he is verbal, but doesn't speak. Hear David explain how he got in and managed his class load with the help of many aids and communication devices. David also offers insights about academics, connecting with professors and peers on campus and online, and how he navigated his college experience. He does mention Stanford, too. Spoiler alert: Cal won that game.

David Teplitz was determined to go to UC Berkeley, and he did it, graduating in May with a degree in political science. David is on the spectrum and has severe apraxia. That means -- in his case-- he is verbal, but doesn't speak. Hear David explain how he got in and managed his class load with the help of many aids and communication devices. David also offers insights about academics, connecting with professors and peers on campus and online, and how he navigated his college experience. He does mention Stanford, too. Spoiler alert: Cal won that game.

David Teplitz was determined to go to UC Berkeley, and he did it, graduating in May with a degree in political science. David is on the spectrum and has severe apraxia. That means -- in his case-- he is verbal, but doesn't speak. Hear David explain how he got in and managed his class load with the help of many aids and communication devices. David also offers insights about academics, connecting with professors and peers on campus and online, and how he navigated his college experience. He does mention Stanford, too. Spoiler alert: Cal won that game.

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PODCAST EPISODE 16:

PODCAST EPISODE 16:

PODCAST EPISODE 16:

sophomore year 101

sophomore year 101

sophomore year 101

PerI Abrams just got back to campus to start her sophomore year at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Her freshman year was amazing...sort of. She had a great first semester (you can hear all about that in Episode 12) But second semester was rougher. She says little things derailed her and she wound up sleeping in some, skipping a few classes, avoiding social situations and worrying about disappointing her parents, and herself. And then...she got covid. The forced break helped her reboot, though, and have some epiphanies about what she needs to do differently this year. One strategy Peri talks about is making sure there's a support network in place *in case she needs it. She might, she might not, but knowing you have relationships with people on campus who can help makes a difference Peri says. Hear more of Peri's story and insights, plus, how the chocolate milk supply is flowing.

PerI Abrams just got back to campus to start her sophomore year at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Her freshman year was amazing...sort of. She had a great first semester (you can hear all about that in Episode 12) But second semester was rougher. She says little things derailed her and she wound up sleeping in some, skipping a few classes, avoiding social situations and worrying about disappointing her parents, and herself. And then...she got covid. The forced break helped her reboot, though, and have some epiphanies about what she needs to do differently this year. One strategy Peri talks about is making sure there's a support network in place *in case she needs it. She might, she might not, but knowing you have relationships with people on campus who can help makes a difference Peri says. Hear more of Peri's story and insights, plus, how the chocolate milk supply is flowing.

PerI Abrams just got back to campus to start her sophomore year at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Her freshman year was amazing...sort of. She had a great first semester (you can hear all about that in Episode 12) But second semester was rougher. She says little things derailed her and she wound up sleeping in some, skipping a few classes, avoiding social situations and worrying about disappointing her parents, and herself. And then...she got covid. The forced break helped her reboot, though, and have some epiphanies about what she needs to do differently this year. One strategy Peri talks about is making sure there's a support network in place *in case she needs it. She might, she might not, but knowing you have relationships with people on campus who can help makes a difference Peri says. Hear more of Peri's story and insights, plus, how the chocolate milk supply is flowing.

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PODCAST EPISODE 15:

Remember Tony? He transferred. Hear all about it.

Remember Tony? He transferred. Hear all about it.

Remember Tony? He transferred. Hear all about it.

Tony Y started this year at the University of Oregon, but he's ending it at Foothill College,
a community college closer to where he's from in Northern California. At the start of his freshman year, he found he loved some things about the U of O and the city of Eugene, but definitely not the weather and maybe not the quarter system. So he decided to see if he might like another school on his original college list, St. Mary's, a smaller private college in California, better. But, he couldn't transfer in the middle of the year, so he moved home and spent the semester at a junior college. He liked it, he felt like the professors were more accessible, and, he plans to enroll at St. Mary's in the fall, maybe even try U of O again, down the line. His advice: if it doesn't feel right, go with your gut.

Tony Y started this year at the University of Oregon, but he's ending it at Foothill College,
a community college closer to where he's from in Northern California. At the start of his freshman year, he found he loved some things about the U of O and the city of Eugene, but definitely not the weather and maybe not the quarter system. So he decided to see if he might like another school on his original college list, St. Mary's, a smaller private college in California, better. But, he couldn't transfer in the middle of the year, so he moved home and spent the semester at a junior college. He liked it, he felt like the professors were more accessible, and, he plans to enroll at St. Mary's in the fall, maybe even try U of O again, down the line. His advice: if it doesn't feel right, go with your gut.

Tony Y started this year at the University of Oregon, but he's ending it at Foothill College,
a community college closer to where he's from in Northern California. At the start of his freshman year, he found he loved some things about the U of O and the city of Eugene, but definitely not the weather and maybe not the quarter system. So he decided to see if he might like another school on his original college list, St. Mary's, a smaller private college in California, better. But, he couldn't transfer in the middle of the year, so he moved home and spent the semester at a junior college. He liked it, he felt like the professors were more accessible, and, he plans to enroll at St. Mary's in the fall, maybe even try U of O again, down the line. His advice: if it doesn't feel right, go with your gut.

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PODCAST EPISODE 14:

Grad school & community advocacy

Ben VanHook is a graduate student at George Mason University, studying public policy. He also works in Washington, D.C. as a Programs and Outreach Associate at the Organization for Autism Research, and as the first autistic student representative to the American Psychological Association. In this episode, Ben talks about how his self-advocacy grew into community advocacy, as he navigated his way to and from a high school that could support him; finding an undergraduate program that was a great fit for him at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA., and now, on to graduate school. Finding his own way prompted Ben to think about how he could help others find what works best for them, too. Ben also explains his work on autism appreciation -- not just autism awareness and acceptance of autistic people-- because he believes neurodiversity offers more in every setting.

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PODCAST EPISODE 13:

Using campus career services to jumpstart the job search

Jasmine B is looking forward to graduating in May from UC Riverside with a degree in environmental engineering. What she’s not looking forward to is job hunting. For the past five years, she’s been working at a fast-food restaurant to help pay for college, so she has plenty of work experience, but not in her chosen field. Jasmine says her college’s career services advisors have been super helpful and had good news for her: the soft skills she already has in customer service will look good to employers. And she got a lot of help polishing her resume to highlight all she has to offer. Hear Jasmine talk about those resume hacks, her final semesters, and getting ready for the road ahead.

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PODCAST EPISODE 12:

Freshman year, 2,719 miles from home. All is well.

Peri A. had to persuade her parents that she’d be just fine if she chose a college far from home. She grew up and went to high school in L.A. But Hamilton College in upstate New York had everything she was looking for – a small school with a strong liberal arts program, accommodations for students on the spectrum, and a sense of community that she loved when she visited. Peri was able to convince her parents that with an aunt and uncle in NYC, she’d have family support near enough if she needed it. Now she’s in her second semester, taking classes in Symbolic and Quantitative Reasoning, Spanish literature, a course in Mythology, and a poetry class. And Peri’s looking forward to a summer internship. She lives in a dorm, in a “split single” room, so she has the space and privacy she craves after long days in class and clubs full of stimulation. Peri also has something to say about the chocolate milk in the dining hall. You’ll want to hear it.

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“The best way to learn is just from going out and doing something—talking to people, being a part of of an organization, or going to events. It’s not always going to be easy, but the only way to get better at anything is to keep doing it— and have experiences.”

—James

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PODCAST EPISODE 11:

coaching from the sidelines

Parents of students on the spectrum are often very involved because that is the only way to make sure school works for your child. Jackie Lorrainne began navigating her son James' school experiences as soon as he was diagnosed in elementary school, and all the way through his college graduation coming up in May of 2022 from the University of Missouri at St. Louis. Along the way she found James a therapeutic middle school and high school, she compromised with him about college choices, and, coached him over the phone about his dorm situation once he got there and eventually decided to transfer to a different university.

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“Once you find a routine where you can get your work done but also not overwhelm yourself—that makes all the difference. It really made all the difference for me.”

—James

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PODCAST EPISODE 10:

Plan B was better

James T. had his heart set on attending an historically black college (HBCU). But the dorm set-up and social scene proved challenging. So for the second semester of his freshman year, he transferred to the University of Missouri, St. Louis. He thrived there, socially and academically. He says he "found a home": had an easier time in the dorms with a single room, and participated in a selective internship program. James is now a senior, on track to graduate in the spring. But early on, he bypassed asking for some of the accommodations he was entitled to. James explains how being on the spectrum can make that complicated, and talks about how colleges are figuring it out.

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PODCAST EPISODE 9:

“WHEN PROFESSORS ARE HELPFUL, IT REALLY HELPS.”

In this episode, Caroline talks with one of her professors at Cal State Fullerton, JudelMay Enriquez, about the ways they worked together. Caroline was struggling in a methods and research class. Even with accommodations, she found she got more support by visiting her professor during office hours to let her get to know her, and her learning style better. She also picked up strategies for keeping up in the course. They also discuss how professors can reach out to students on the spectrum who may benefit from academic support.

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“If you have a good relationship with your professors, you can show them that you actually give a crap about the class they’re teaching. They might even be willing to bend some rules for you if you’re in trouble.”

—Tony

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PODCAST EPISODE 8:

so far, so good

Tony Y. is three weeks into his freshman year at the University of Oregon, and so far he loves the vibe in Eugene, the great food in town, and his first-quarter classes: The Politics of Business, algebra, trumpet studio, and he's in the marching band. Hear more about how Tony is settling in, his unique living arrangement, and his advice on how to talk to professors. Another hack: Get a Safeway card, don't DoorDash every meal.

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PODCAST EPISODE 7:

inclusive college opportunities

Many colleges and universities are opening up more offerings for students on the spectrum who are seeking a college experience without pursuing a degree. These certificate programs are often a good fit for students who are curious about a range of subjects, seek social settings, and want to gain independent living skills but may have intellectual disabilities or other challenges. In this episode, we hear from Charlie who is a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Jessica Keefhaver who runs the Path to Independence project there.

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PODCAST EPISODE 6:

choosing the right college

Choosing the right school can require lots of research, especially when you're on the Spectrum. It's not just finding a college with majors you are interested in, but also figuring out which schools have support services and programs that match your needs. Eric Endlich has created a huge database on his website that lays it all out. He also advises students privately in his college counseling business that he founded because he saw too many students on the spectrum going off to college and having a hard time. He thought he could help, and now he's switched his focus from psychotherapy to college admissions. Hear what he has to say about the range of options out there, and how to choose a college.

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PODCAST EPISODE 5:

this is hard

Guillermo Guzman says he was never one of the most popular kids in high school, but he was one of the smartest. When he gets to UCRiverside, he feels like he's pretty average. He struggles socially and academically. Finding it hard to connect with classmates, he broke down and joined the anime club. And then there was an incident that changed everything.

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PODCAST EPISODE 4:

slow and steady towards a 4-year degree

Caroline spent a little over 8 years at community college. She wanted to pass her classes without feeling overwhelmed, and, she did it. Then she transferred to Cal State Fullerton and earned her B.S. in Health Science after four more years. Finding the right major and career path was a process that might seem too slow to some students (and their parents) but Caroline was determined to make her own choices along the way, and she has no regrets. As a self-advocate, she joined the Cal State Fullerton Student Disability Advisory Committee to make sure all neurodiverse students are supported, and feel empowered to make college life choices.

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PODCAST EPISODE 3:

facing challenges and studying abroad

Aniella Fields had the grades, but she was very hesitant about going to college. Her parents told her she had to give it a try. She was accepted to UC Riverside and moved into a dorm her first semester. Then she struggled a bit as a sophomore and decided to disclose her diagnosis. She also changed majors, got involved with TEDx and other extracurricular activities, and ultimately did well enough to graduate in three years. Plus, hear all about her time in Japan. She loved it.

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PODCAST EPISODE 2:

college during covid

Jasmine Board is a junior at UC Riverside. She was on campus for a quarter when COVID hit, but she says it turns out online school is great for her. She doesn’t need a note taker now because she can listen to the posted lectures at any speed she wants, as many times as she wants. Jasmine also talks about wishing she hadn’t hesitated to transfer to a four year university, finding her passion in the environmental sciences, making friends, and more: being selected for a NASA internship, her job, her boyfriend, and mountain biking.

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PODCAST EPISODE 1:

from community college to cal state long beach

Jonathan Martin recently graduated! He talks about his trek through college, shares why he started out at community college, how he picked the right university and describes his ups and downs with dorm life once he got there. Plus, why he's now learning to drive, where he's working now and how he plans to break into the animation business.

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