Summer Camp Helps Special Needs Students Prepare for College

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Adjusting to campus life can be tough for any student.

But for teens with Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning individuals with autism, making the transition to college can be especially challenging.

The University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire is attempting to help such students succeed by preparing them for the stressors they will face as undergrads. The university, a NACAC member institution, holds a week-long residential summer camp to help high school juniors and seniors get ready for college. 2018 marks the 10th year it has offered the camp.

“One of the biggest stressors for people with Asperger’s is uncertainty brought on by social expectations,” according to a 2016 article about the program published by the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. “To help build their confidence, campers receive daily instruction and practice such skills as relating to a roommate, communicating effectively with professors, and working in groups.”

According to the Autism Society, children with autism are frequently viewed “as aloof and uninterested in others.” Individuals with Asperger’s “usually want to fit in…but often they don’t know how to do it.”

Camp coordinator Kay Hagedorn told the Leader-Telegram that the experience of living on a college campus helps build participants’ comfort and confidence.

In addition to learning how to navigate campus facilities, students attend seminars on time management and meet with professors in their field of interest.

The experiences help tame anxieties, and get students excited about college, Hagedorn told the Leader-Telegram. Past campers have gone on to graduate from UW-Eau Claire.

“Campers see the successful completion of a degree and a future career as real possibilities,” she said.

Read more about the camp.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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