Autism comparisons to be made through “The Big Bang Theory’

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Eastern’s office of student disabilities and Illowa Ahead will host a presentation about Autism Spectrum Disorder at 9:30 a.m. April 17th.

Jan Weiss, the Illowa Ahead president, will be using clips from the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” to discuss the characteristics of the character Sheldon who has similarities with ASD.

ASD is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, according to the Center for Disease Control website.

Kathryn Waggoner, the director of student disability services, said Weiss will be sharing information about how each clip from the show relates to individuals with ASD and how this disability impacts them in the educational setting.

Waggoner said during and after the presentation, Weiss will be facilitating an inclusive conversation for the first part of the event. She said for the second part, Gail Richard, the interim director of Eastern’s Autism center, will discuss what it is like transitioning to college with ASD.

“It is important to recognize that going to college is a major change for any individual,” Waggoner said, “For students with ASD it is especially difficult, students with ASD rely on routine.”

Waggoner said because of their reliance of the routine they find it difficult to move past such an interruption when it is disrupted.

Abbey Lesko-Youngberg, the assistant director of the student disability services, said those with the disability can experience a challenge in the change of a daily routine when coming to college.

Lesko-Younberg said those who have ASD do not read social ques as well, which can cause anxiety. She said people with this disability need to have a lot of downtime to regroup and recharge.

“These students have been used to a daily routine of living at home and attending a high school where everyone tends to be familiar with who they are,” Waggoner said.

Waggoner said attending college changes their routine and that is when it is important to have support systems to ensure they achieve academic success. She said the stigma of these students having this disability could sometimes burden them from receiving help.

“Often they want to be seen as normal,” Waggoner said.

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].