Centre College students explored the myths and realities of autism spectrum disorder during the three-week CentreTerm, gaining an understanding through personal interactions and the study of such topics as the vaccination controversy; societal and family impact; environmental issues; educational and policy concerns; and other implications of the biology and psychology of the disorder.
With education and awareness being the main purposes of the course, Donna Plummer, Professor Emerita of Education, said that by the end of the course, students were better equipped to provide support for a co-worker, understanding for a neighborhood child or stand up for someone on the spectrum.
Plummer said she hopes her students gained knowledge and understanding of the disorder and are open to friendships with those who are on the spectrum.
During the course, students participated in a community-based group learning experience with local persons on the autism spectrum where they played games and ate pizza.
Molly Anderson ’19 (Stanford, Kentucky) chose to take this course because she found it interesting and potentially helpful to her future career.
“I intend to be a special education teacher, so I thought that this class would provide a deeper insight into what individuals on the autism spectrum disorder experience,” Anderson said.
She added that Plummer did an excellent job at giving the students an array of experiences to enhance their knowledge of the subject matter.
Torey Hawkins ’19 (Frankfort, Kentucky) took this course for several reasons.
“First, it helps to complete my minor—but of all the reasons, this is the less influential,” Hawkins said. “Not only has this class been raved about, not only throughout the education department, but all over campus, I truly believe in expanding my knowledge and understanding of different groups, and this class does exactly that.
“I took this class to help me learn and develop an understanding about children with autism,” she continued. “It gave me an opportunity to study a topic and group of people I am unfamiliar with and that helps me be a better citizen and respectful and accepting member of society.”
For Aaryn Chandler ’19 (Saint John, Indiana), this course did not line up with his major or career interests, but he gained knowledge for personal interactions.
“I chose to take this course because my younger cousin has a slight form of Asperger’s syndrome, and I wanted to get a better idea of what he encounters on a daily basis,” Chandler said. “I also wanted to understand the way I could make things easier for him and make him feel more comfortable.
“I would recommend this course to anyone who gets the opportunity to take it, because it is interesting and enjoyable, and Dr. Plummer is a great professor,” he concluded.
by Kerry Steinhofer
February 12, 2019