40 Students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder assisted by centre last year

Heather Peace, left, is a learning strategist working with the Transition Support Centre. Tara Connolly, the coordinator of the centre assists students with ASD

A centre aiming to help students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder adjust to post-secondary life is hoping to attract more attention from the college’s community.

Not only does it work to help students work on an acquiring the proper accommodations from their professors and gain access to the necessary academic resources, but it also works to help students navigate the often complicated social world of the college life in their first year.

It is a pilot project started in 2014 by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. The centre has been growing, having increased from 40 students accessing the service last year to 63 students this year.

Tara Connolly, the co-ordinator for the centre, stated that she felt the program was a success, but wanted to encourage those students who were dealing with autism to reach out to them should they feel they need help.

“It’s an expectation at college that you reach out to services. Sometimes, students think it’s a sign of weakness to reach out,” said Connolly. “Reaching out is a sign of maturity, not of weakness.”

The support centre offers a drop-in centre for first-year students that can be accessed at any time, for as many times as the student needs. Connolly wanted to make clear, however, that students who make use of the centre are not Transition Support Centre students, but instead Algonquin students.

One of the features of the program are the socials which are events where students can get together and meet other students who might be facing some of the same issues that they themselves face while transitioning into college. Additionally, the socials are unique in that both first-years and more seasoned students are able to take part.

Heather Peace, a learning strategist working with the Transition Support Centre, emphasised that there was no requirement for students to access the centre and that students using the centre got into the college on their own merit.

“Students in this environment are here because they deserve to be,” said Peace. “Their differences don’t impact that whatsoever.”

Students who are looking to receive help from the Transition Support Centre should contact the Welcome Centre where they can book an appointment.