By Patty Pacelli
When researching colleges for your student who may have learning differences, it is worthwhile to look at universities that have dedicated centers or programs that go above and beyond the standard academics for your student, such as the SALT (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques) Center at The University of Arizona.
Last weekend, I was an author/vendor at the annual Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus. I sold copies of my book, Six-Word Lessons for Autism-Friendly Workplaces. While in Tucson, I arranged a tour and visit with Hilary Cummins and Laurel Grigg Mason at the UA SALT Center. "SALT" stands for Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques, and the program offers fee-based support for students with various learning challenges, including those on the autism spectrum. The beautiful, newly-remodeled and expanded building, the Patricia A. Bartlett building, is in a convenient central location on campus, and contains seating and study spaces of all types. It is filled with attractive individual study stations, private rooms, and tables for groups of all sizes. The SALT Center is equipped with educational technology for various subjects of study, and offers assistance with learning the latest useful apps and programs.
Hilary and Laurel shared with me that tutoring is one of the main benefits of the SALT Center, whether it's one-on-one, small group or large group, or studying for exams. Students enrolled in the SALT Center can drop in or make appointments with tutors, many of whom are peers who have been trained and certified. The inviting spaces make it easy to succeed in the challenging environment of university academics while simultaneously offering camaraderie and social opportunities. Students also meet with their assigned Strategic Learning Specialist weekly. These meetings cover a variety of topics, including organization and time management, academic strategies, and a review of their progress in each course.
On the tour I saw a large wall of dozens of handouts on many topics that would help students with their academic career and life on campus. Topics included 5-Minute Therapy with a list of small things to help stay calm when anxious, Mindfulness Exercises, which included an exercise to notice the five senses, Success Strategies from other SALT Students and Gratitude Exercises. I was impressed with the wealth of services and helpful resources to make sure students with learning differences have a truly positive college experience, leading to better career success upon graduation.
Because of the SALT Center, the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 edition listed The University of Arizona, along with 15 other major universities, as having strong support for students with learning disabilities. Universities with programs such as this are another factor to consider when choosing the right college.
Inspiration for Life with Autism
This blog has a variety of articles about people living life with autism, and topics and ideas that can help in the journey. Guest bloggers are welcome. Inspired by Trevor, a young adult film critic, photographer and college graduate on the autism spectrum.