St. Norbert College to Launch Autism Spectrum Support Program this Fall

From St. Norbert College, August 15, 2014
by Mike Counter, mike.counter@snc.edu, 920-403-3089

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost one in sixty-eight children has been diagnosed with autism. St. Norbert College wants to make sure students who arrive on campus with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have the necessary support when they arrive.

Camille (Coppens) Nicklaus, a 1987 graduate of St. Norbert, and her husband, Todd, gifted the college $5,000 a year for 4 years. Provided the autism spectrum disorder program grows over the four years, the Nicklauses, of Rothschild, Wis., will endow it for $100,000. St. Norbert College will launch its autism spectrum support program this fall.

Bruce Robertson, a licensed clinical psychologist and senior director of counseling and career programs at the college, will lead the program.

"It will combine individual counseling, social skills training and peer mentoring, and is designed to meet the particular needs and provide support of these students as they navigate the non-academic demands of college life," said Robertson. "Areas such as self-advocacy, emotional regulation, social functioning and campus engagement will be the focus."

According to the CDC, there is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from others, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

"It is our hope that being proactive and addressing concerns faced by students with ASD before there is a crisis, along with helping them when difficulties do arise, will improve their chances of staying in college and making it to graduation," said Robertson. "The overall goal is to enhance the student's success, both in academic and nonacademic areas, and prepare the student for life after college."

For more information on the autism spectrum support program at St. Norbert College, contact Bruce Robertson at bruce.robertson@snc.edu or 920-403-3045.