April is Autism Acceptance Month, and Student Disability Services (SDS) at Texas A&M University-Commerce hosted several events to commemorate the occasion.
Autism Acceptance Month is observed worldwide and includes activities that foster support and acceptance of people who are living with autism. Originally started in 1970 as “Autism Awareness Month,” the autism community continuously calls for more than just awareness; they want public acceptance and appreciation.
SDS hosted the “Students on the Spectrum Panel” on April 12. At the event, faculty, staff and students discussed ways A&M-Commerce can best serve students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Panelist Kelly Carrero, assistant professor from the Department of Psychology and Special Education, shared classroom strategies that promote success for students on the autism spectrum.
Carrero encouraged instructors to provide clear directives to help students navigate assignments and social situations like group work activities. She also advised instructors to supplement lessons with as many visuals as possible. Most importantly, she reminded faculty and staff to avoid harmful stereotypes and assumptions about people.
“Battle your own biases. Don't let yourself get in the way of a student's success,” Carrero advised.
A student panelist, whose first name is Cooper, also shared his perspective. Cooper is a sophomore computer science major at A&M-Commerce.
“As a student who has experienced a lot of this, I'd say don't judge a book by its cover,” Cooper said. “Even though we're not all the same, we all are equal people in this world, whether we have a disability or not. You can learn a lot from somebody if you take the time to know them and understand what their situation is.”
Among other Autism Acceptance activities, SDS held a watch party for the nationally acclaimed film, “Autism Goes to College,” a “Sensory Friendly Activities” session, and a “Cookies and Information” booth.
SDS provides accommodations and support services to enhance accessibility for individuals with disabilities like ASD. The department also promotes awareness of disability-related issues to create a culture of inclusion where all are welcomed, respected and supported to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
Learn more about SDS and autism services at tamuc.edu/student-disability-services.