In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, the Staff Association at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) hosted Carole White, current NEO adjunct faculty member, as a guest speaker at their meeting on April 11. During her speech, White stressed that everyone on campus can help to welcome and support students who are autistic or manifest autism spectrum disorder, whether the students are enrolled at NEO or are visitors to campus. “Given appropriate encouragement and assistance, many autistic and autistic spectrum disorder students can earn academic credentials, obtain employment, make valuable contributions to their community, and enjoy a meaningful life,” White said.
White provided specific examples of approaches to avoid in interacting with autistic students as well as strategies that work well in assisting autistic students to succeed. “Autism is now at an epidemic level,” White said. “It is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States today. According to Autism Speaks, a support group for autistic individuals and their families, 1 of every 88 children in our country will be diagnosed with autism or autism spectrum disorder.” White continued, “These problems are characterized by difficulties or differences in a child’s communication, social, and learning behaviors.
Despite these challenges, autistic students may display high intelligence, good memory, reliability, punctuality, and attention to detail.” White holds a Master of Education degree, with emphasis in speech pathology, from the University of Louisiana. Prior to moving to Oklahoma, she worked for many years as both an educator with many high-functioning autistic students. Throughout her career she has advocated for both educators and exceptional students.