The mission of Cal State University East Bay’s (CSUEB) College Link Program (CLP) is “to help students who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to transition and succeed in a higher education environment.”
CLP was founded in September 2010 by CSUEB’s Director of Accessibility Services Dr. Catherine Brown in response to requests for a support program for transition age youth with ASD. CLP program coordinator Bryan Fauth showed us the CLP lab and introduced us to some of the students. “We give students who have been diagnosed with ASD the complete college experience in all areas – academic, social, independence and career,” Fauth said. “This is the only program in California that is part of a public university and ASD students are part of a regular university program.”
The Classroom Experience
Students with ASD attend the same classes as all other students. Some have shadow coaches who observe them during classroom time, help them stay on task and help them communicate with their professor as needed.
The CLP Lab
After their classes, the students go to the CLP lab for support. In the CLP lab, computers and other technological devices that support multi-sensory learning are provided. For instance, students can listen to an audio textbook or speak their answers or notes into devices that record and transcribe them for a written document.
At the lab, coaches are available for specialized individual support. The coaches monitor timely homework completion, provide academic advising, facilitate study groups, review appropriate classroom social skills and collaborate with the student’s family and professors as needed.
The CLP offers non-mandated direct services support for students with ASD. Therefore, the operation of the CLP requires additional fees from families, gifts from foundations or grants that support individuals with disabilities. The CLP also assists student efforts to ensure that students use their legally mandated support services (Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) as needed. These include audio-recorded lectures, alternative testing arrangements, accessible media and assistive technology.
In each CSUEB apartment, four students live together while sharing common areas. To assist the transition from high school to college, coaches are provided to help the students get settled. A 10-week planning program helps the students with executive functioning skills, organization/time-management techniques and the prioritization of academic activities. These coaches provide essential knowledge to help promote student independence with such functions as household chores, grocery shopping and safety procedures.
Erin Martelli, Academic Coach and Ilea Adams, Academic Coach
Bryan Fauth, CLP Coordinator and Elizabeth Chueka, Project Impact’s Assistive Technology Trainer. CLP currently shares their lab with Project Impact. Project Impact provides tutoring, lab support, wellness counseling, and assistive technology training to students with document disabilities.
CLP Student Profiles
Students are encouraged to write a letter of introduction explaining their unique challenges to professors of their quarterly; however, CLP students may or may not choose to tell faculty or other students about their diagnosis.
Kenton Barks is a theatre student. He is great with voices and hopes to become a voice actor. During a visit, he performed an uncanny imitation of the Star Wars character Chewbacca. Kenton’s challenges range from needing help with organizational skills to being punctual to his classes. Along with these difficulties, he has faced some tough challenges throughout his college career, but has never given up. He currently holds a 3.0 GPA.
Antonio Garcia is freshman at CSUEB. At first, Antonio was having difficulty with the transition from high school to college because of the fast paced environment, but is now more comfortable with the college environment. Antonio is an art major and has a talent for drawing and photography. Antonio’s challenges range from paying attention in the classroom and being surrounded by large groups of people. He cites CLP as one of the key assets to help him adapt to college life.
Drew Lochtefeld is a current CSUEB student who lives on campus. He is studying history and political science and has an amazing knowledge of historical events, dates, political parties and ideologies. In terms of being organized and staying focused, Drew has come a long way since he first started at the university; he attends his lab every day, is organized and checks his assignments regularly. One of the social challenges Drew faces is when friends make non-specific plans such as “let’s hang out at the mall.” He prefers to know such detailed plans such as time duration, activity specifics and return time. Bryan takes his fellow students on many social outings such as trips to the theatre, visits to Chinatown and shopping excursions.
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