Event to help college students with autism

Speakers, including locals, will share their stories

Dillan Barmache, a Woodland Hills resident with autism, will discuss his path to Cal Lutheran, where he just began his freshman year and is running cross-country. 

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Sept. 17, 2018) College students with autism and professionals who work with them will provide advice at a conference on Saturday, Oct. 6, designed to help this growing population of students in higher education.

California Lutheran University’s Third Spectrum of Opportunity Conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Gilbert Arena on the Thousand Oaks campus.

Today, 1 student in 59 is diagnosed with autism. With the growth in diagnoses, early intervention and greater inclusion in general education environments, more students with autism are continuing past high school. One-third of high school students with autism enroll in college. But they are much less likely to graduate from college than other students with and without disabilities.

“It's just not enough to discuss access and transition, so this conference will also cover critical information to support the persistence of students toward their educational and graduation goals,” said Edlyn Peña, director of Cal Lutheran’s Autism and Communication Center. “This will include accommodations, navigating social environments and managing social-emotional issues commonly experienced by students with autism.” 

Dillan Barmache, a Woodland Hills resident with autism, will discuss his path to Cal Lutheran, where he just began his freshman year and is running cross-country. California State University, Channel Islands, student Samuel Capozzi and University of California, Berkeley, students David Teplitz and Hari Srinivasan will speak about thriving as autistic college students. Ventura County Community College District students with autism will share college-planning pointers. Autistic consultant Sue Rubin, who graduated from Whittier College in 2013, will discuss paving the way for functionally nonverbal people with autism like her to attend college. And Kayla Takeuchi, who earned an associate degree from Fresno City College in May, will discuss opportunities for college students like her who type to communicate. 

“It’s important for parents and educators to hear and learn from their first-hand experiences. They are the autism experts, after all,” said Peña of Camarillo.

Administrators and faculty members from Cal Lutheran, Ventura College, CSUCI, California State University, Northridge, andthe University of San Francisco will discuss accommodations and inclusive environments for students. Therapists will talk about social-emotional issues.

A drum circle and an alternative-communication social will also be held.

Registration, which is requested by Sept. 25, is $40 for students and self-advocates and $90 for others. Continental breakfast and lunch are included. For registration and more information, visit CalLutheran.edu/autism.