Over the course of the last decade, autism has become increasingly visible in the public eye. Celebrities talk about it, news stories report on it, doctors and parents fret about it – but very often our national conversations about autism fail to include Autistic people ourselves. The Navigating College handbook and its associated website is an effort to try and address that problem, by putting the voices of those of us on the spectrum at the forefront of the discussion on how to include autistic people in higher education. We’ve written a great resource that is aimed first and foremost at reaching college students on the spectrum and is written by people who have been there. We know our own needs better than those who speak for us and about us.
Through first-hand experience and useful advice on issues ranging from classroom accommodations to dorm life to sexuality, we have tried to pull together a resource that is truly comprehensive. We made sure that while the classroom was one important part of what we chose to cover, it was not the only component of the handbook. While classes and homework are an important part of college, no one tries to tell non-disabled students that this is the totality of their college experience. Clubs, social activities, dormitories, parties, sex and relationships and countless other things should take up as much of your waking hours as schoolwork does. For those of you who will be living on campus, and even for many of you who will not be, college isn’t just a place to go to take courses — it is a way of life. We’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t talk about the parts of the college experience that happen outside of the classroom.
Transition is one of the most intriguing times of life for people with and without disabilities. The path between being a child and becoming an adult is one that is fraught with both pitfalls and potential. Still, we believe it is a path that is well worth walking. No doors should be shut for those of us on the spectrum or with any other disability. By providing the right supports, accommodations and resources, we hope to make the higher education experience more inclusive and accessible for all. The Navigating College handbook is a vital first step towards accomplishing that. Thank you for your interest and we hope you enjoy your copy. Nothing About Us, Without Us!
Ari Ne’eman President
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network