YSU center recognized for helping students

Patrick Davis knew he was different, and so did his mother.
As a child, he was aloof. He didn’t socialize well with classmates. He was impatient and on occasion prone to verbal and physical outbursts.
His grades went down. He received counseling. He was tested for attention deficit.
“My mother always said, ‘There’s something going on; I just don’t know what it is,’” Davis recalls.
After years of frustration, Davis and his mother finally found out: Asperger’s syndrome.
“Unless you yourself have it or unless you have a lot of knowledge about Asperger’s, there’s just no way to know what it’s like to live with it,” Davis said.
‘A program that works’
Today, Davis, 24, of Boardman, is a junior history and American studies major at Youngstown State University. With the help of the YSU Center for Student Progress, Davis is well on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree and graduating in May 2006.

The center, which offers individual intervention services as well as tutorial services and a host of other programs to facilitate the success of all YSU students, is featured as “a program that works” in the book “Parent’s Guide to Children with Asperger’s Syndrome.”

The book, published this year, is written by William Stillman, who learned about the Center for Student Progress during a visit to YSU two years ago to present a workshop on Asperger’s syndrome. The center is featured in a section of the book that addresses the transition to college for students with Asperger’s.

Asperger’s syndrome is a neurobiological disorder in which people with normal to above average intelligence and language development exhibit autisticlike behaviors and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills, according to Online Asperger’s Syndrome Information and Support.

People with the syndrome have difficulty with changes, often have obsessive routines, have difficulty reading nonverbal cues, are often perceived as eccentric, and are overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells and sights.

Still misunderstood
Jain Savage, coordinator of Disability Services in the YSU Center for Student Progress, said there are 11 YSU students with Asperger’s syndrome registered with her office. She said there are more and more students with the syndrome, partly because the diagnosis is more widely recognized than in the past.
“It is one of those disabilities that is still misunderstood,” she said.

In his book, Stillman calls the Center for Student Progress “a model program of support to students with Asperger’s syndrome.” He writes about how the center teams each student with a coordinator, develops study schedules, assesses learning styles and keeps a checklist of academic and social goals for each student.

“Most forward-thinking, progressive universities have programs established to aid students with disabilities, but finding those that have expertise in the subtleties of Asperger’s syndrome may prove challenging,” Stillman said in his book.

Chris Khumprakob, a CSP coordinator, said students with Asperger’s have a wide range of problems. Some, she said, have difficulty managing time, so the center helps map out study and homework schedules.

Many, she said, have difficulty relating to other people and run into problems with instructors and fellow students. “In those situations, I just act as a listener,” Khumprakob said. “Sometimes I try to help them see things from the other person’s point of view.”

Living with Asperger’s
Davis, who plans to attend graduate school after getting his bachelor’s degree, said he is now writing a book about living with Asperger’s syndrome.

He also has received support from the Rich Center for the Study and Treatment of Autism at YSU and is currently working with the center’s director, J. Georgia Backus, to develop a presentation for the parents of children with Asperger’s syndrome.

“If I can help someone out there understand that they’re not alone, that they don’t have to be ashamed and that there are places to go to get help and to cope, then I want to do that,” he said.

For more information on Asperger’s syndrome, visit the Web site of the YSU Rich Center for Autism .

Sunday 20th March 2005. Original article here.

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By alex
March 20, 2005

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