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College Success Program to launch in fall 2012

Eastern University has announced that its new College Success Program for Students Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder will officially begin offering services in Fall 2012.

The idea formed in the late 1990s: The Cushing Center for Counseling and Academic Support could be expanded to include a cohort-based program to help students on the Autism Spectrum succeed in college.

According to Eastern President Dr. David Black, “It was suggested at the time that there were a lot of people at the high end of the Spectrum that could do wonderfully in college because they’re just so smart.” He added that, because of these students’ complications with social reasoning, they “would often come to college and not stay.”

To join the program, prospective students must first apply and be accepted to the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). They may then apply for acceptance into the College Success Program (CSP). The first cohort is currently being recruited for 2012.

Douglas Cornman, CSP Coordinator, explained that the CSP will offer specialized services providing academic, social, daily living and cultural support to students living on the Autism Spectrum. The goal of the program is to help students become “as successful as they can be while working towards their degree at Eastern,” said Cornman.

According to Black, although there are a handful of colleges and universities across the country that claim to offer specialized services to students on the Autism Spectrum, “what is different about our model is the notion of cumulative transition.”

In other words, students will be part of a cohort overseen by Cornman while taking courses with the rest of the CAS. Involvement with the CSP will be intensive when students first begin, but they will gradually transition to greater and greater independence.

The arts will be a special focus in this program “as a way to help students employ social skills that may be foreign to them,” said Black. The choice of Cornman as CSP Coordinator will support this aim, since not only is he a licensed counselor who has worked with people on the Autism Spectrum for thirteen years, but he is also a Board Certified dance movement therapist.

Cornman stated, “This program is well placed at Eastern because the university has a real commitment to serving its students and creating an environment that is welcoming and opens a student’s mind to learn.”

For more information, visit the College Success Program’s section on the Cushing Center for Counseling and Academic Support’s page at www.eastern.edu.

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