My personal experiences as a professor on the autism spectrum

“On the following day he disclosed to me that he was on the autism spectrum and had flunked out of two universities before arriving at Adelphi University. Now getting all A’s, he was looking forward to graduation…”

This blog post is from Stephen Shore, professor of special education at Adelphi University, member of our Family Services Committee, and on the autism spectrum. Stephen recently just released a new book through Jessica Kingsley Publishers called College for Students with Disabilities: We Do Belong which features a chapter from Autism Speaks Staffer Kerry Magro who is a motivational speaker also on the autism spectrum. You can learn more about the book here.

It was my first day at Adelphi University where I had met a student assistant – who I just knew had Asperger Syndrome.  Perhaps it takes one to know one. On the following day he disclosed to me that he was on the autism spectrum and had flunked out of two universities before arriving at Adelphi University.  Now getting all A’s, he was looking forward to graduation.

Taking part in the Bridges to Adelphi program with Mitchell Nagler at the helm and receiving the support he needed in the social and executive functioning aspects of managing college academics made all the difference to him – as it does for over 100 students with Asperger Syndrome and related conditions at my university.  Find out more in “Bridging the Gap Between High School and College” written by Mitch and others working in the program.

A few semesters later I jokingly told students taking my course in diagnosis and intervention in autism spectrum disorders that they needed to memorize the assigned chapters and other readings.  A student having cerebral palsy with barely enough motor control in her hands to operate her wheelchair responded with “I did memorize every word”.  Based on her performance in class I believed her – and she was the only student to have ever received an A+ in any course I taught. Find more about Ehrin McHenry’s work in her chapter “The Myth of Equal Opportunity.

College for Students with Disabilities: We DO Belong combines the latest cutting edge research with powerful stories of individuals with autism and other disabilities to provide insights and hope for persons with differences to achieve success in higher education.

More about the book:

“You are not college material” or “you don’t belong in college” are comments frequently heard by students with autism and other conditions. With higher education frequently an expected part of the transition to adulthood College for Students with Disabilities: We DO Belong includes practical advice to encourage self-advocacy in students with disabilities, and to support the professionals who are facing the challenges alongside them.

Greater awareness of autism and other disabilities leads to more research, which leads to better interventions and educational strategies in grade school.  As a result institutions of higher education are seeing increasing numbers of students with disabilities on campus and in their hallowed halls of learning.

Rather than being left behind in grade school, the learning challenges students with autism and other disabilities have follow them in to higher education.

Edited by Pavan John Antony and I, we share personal stories of individuals such as Dena Gassner, Patrick Kelty, Kerry Magro, Melissa Mooney, Ehrin McHenry, and others, who describe both the challenges and successes of their time in higher education combined with the latest research on effective practice from clinicians and professors such as Mitch Nagler and Francine Conway.


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