College Living Experience students receive the support they need to make – and be – a friend. As a college program for students with Asperger’s Syndrome, autism, ADD and learning disabilities, CLE provides opportunities for special needs students to become comfortable in social situations. These encounters lead students with special needs to develop appropriate, fulfilling relationships with peers and adults, and set the stage for future encounters that are successful and satisfying.
CLE’s approach to supporting students, as they develop their social skills, is driven by the individual learner. With the right social skills supports, students have an opportunity to develop and apply social skills in relevant ways that enhance their ability to be successful in a variety of settings. CLE’s social supports will lay a foundation for students to be better equipped to experience success within the domains of academics, independent living,and career development.
The CLE staff facilitate a variety of social activities each week that are geared toward developing specific social skills, in a real world setting, while having fun at the same time! Activities range from community cultural performances, local entertainment and attractions, to simply dining out or having a short coffee break. Students develop social skills such as respecting boundaries, understanding non-verbal communication, using conversation skills, and perspective taking.
Professional Social Skills Approach
Social skills support includes a weekly group led by the staff psychologist in which students talk about issues such as stress management, coping skills and other topics relevant to their peer group of special needs students making a college or adult transition. Students also meet regularly with their CLE case manager to talk about their progress, assess their independence and make the most of the resources available to students with Asperger’s, autism and learning disabilities. Additionally, a CLE mentor encourages friendly participation in activities that foster interaction among students with Asperger’s, autism, ADD and learning disabilities. Loosely structured social skills groups revolve around student interests such as bike riding, dinner and trips to the gym, while specially planned outings and events vary from trips to see a musical or an art exhibit, to participating in local festivals or a fishing trip. Social skills development is an integral part of a student’s successful transition through college and into adulthood.
Students experience social life off campus, too, by participating in outings and events with CLE staff and peers. Students with special needs shop, go to movies and eat out. They bike, rock climb and ski. At CLE, special needs students participate in typical activities all college students enjoy – and they develop the social skills to help them establish lasting, rewarding relationships with new-found confidence.