Connecting with Peers: A Case Study on College Transition for a Student with Asperger's Syndrome

DO-IT Factsheet #240
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty/articles?240

Background

My name is Austin. I have a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome and I recently started taking classes at my local community college.

Access Issue

My family and I were concerned about my transition to college because I have difficulty meeting people and making new friends. Having friends my own age at school helps me to stay positive and motivated when things get hard. My two best friends in high school were people whom I have known all my life.

Solution

I like playing pool and I am a good pool player. One day I saw some students playing pool in the student lounge. I watched them for a while and they asked if I wanted to play with them. Now we meet daily at the pool table after lunch. I enjoy playing pool with them. We're talking about forming a pool team and competing in pool tournaments with students from other community colleges.

Conclusion

This case study demonstrates the following:

  1. Common interests and shared skills can "break the ice" when meeting new people.
  2. Becoming involved in a club, team, or informal small group is a good way to make new friends.
  3. Groups that focus on activities rather than conversation may be more comfortable for students who have difficulty with social interactions.
  4. Peers can be part of a support network for students with disabilities.