April is Autism Awareness Month, and Pierce College could benefit by offering classes and workshops on how to deal with an individual who has autism or is on the spectrum.
A CDC report stated that 1 in 54 children have been identified as being on the autism spectrum disorder. This is over 75,000,000 people (which is 1% of the world’s population) that are on the spectrum.
Since 1974, Pierce College has had a program called Special Services that helps provide on-campus services to students with disabilities. Over 900 students with disabilities per semester receive a diverse range of support services that are not provided by other departments on campus and by many services that are.
However, having Special Services on campus is not enough to help students that have autism or are on the spectrum.
Pierce can begin to offer a one-day workshop called JASPER, which stands for Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement, and Regulation.
This type of workshop was offered by Dr. Connie Kasari from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on March 3, which is a part of the Autism Studies program at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
JASPER targets the foundations of social communication and uses naturalistic strategies to increase the rate and complexity of social communication. The workshop will describe JASPER’s foundations, present research, explain strategies that are employed in JASPER sessions, and show the paramountcy of assessment in informing treatment targets and tracking progress.
Pierce College offers two three-unit courses called Child Development 044 and Child Development 045, which are usually offered in the fall and spring semesters and run for eight weeks long.
Child Development 044 is designed for students that are interested in working with young children who have exceptional needs and their families, while Child Development 045 is an overview of programs that provide special education services with children who have exceptionalities.
Neither of these classes is a prerequisite and they are recommended for students majoring in child development and want to work with people who have special needs.
Along with offering workshops and classes, Pierce also can help professors and students along with any other faculty members by giving out names of various organizations around the world that can help educate them on autism and how to deal with it, as well as inviting various alumni who are on the spectrum to give out speeches on their experiences and what life was like being on the spectrum.