The College Link Program: What Didn’t Make It In The Documentary
I made a documentary on the College Link Program, or CLP as it is often called, a program made specifically to help students with autism succeed in university, which is at California State University East Bay. I’m fairly proud of the video, and it does a good job of going over what the College Link Program is and what it does. Unfortunately, as it so often goes when making movies and the like, there were things about the program that could not be put in the documentary, whether because they had to be cut for time, or because they weren’t touched on in the interviews. So I would like to use this post to go over some of the aspects of the CLP that were unable to make it into the documentary.
The Conversation Club is an initiative that is jointly run by the College Link Program and the Speech Pathology department at the university. Its purpose is to help the CLP students develop and practice the social skills they need. Volunteers from the Speech Pathology department tell the CLP students about some sort of skill, like context checking, and then help them practice it, often in the form of some sort of game. Afterward, a group discussion takes place, so that the students can go over what they learned.
For the past couple of years, the College Link Program has put on a talent show where students can share their artistic sides. The Spectrum Showcase featured singing, performance, and art displays. On a related note, there is also a Creativity Lab, where students can take some time out of their week to do writing, illustration, and other creative endeavors. While both are new additions to the CLP, they seem likely to be fixtures of the program for years to come.
One of the things the College Link Program does is it gathers research on the students in it. This is important because there is very little research on autism at the university level, compared to K-12 education. Typically, this takes the form of qualitative research survey-style forms. At the 23 second mark in the documentary, Bryan Fauth is assembling the surveys for the students. Occasionally, other types of research take place, such as a study on the effectiveness of the Conversation Club. A display poster of that study’s results can be briefly seen in the documentary at the eight minute mark on the wall at Bryan Fauth’s station in the CLP lab.
The most important aspect of the College Link Program that didn’t really get mentioned in the documentary is how it helps students prepare for and find employment. As I mentioned in a previous post, autism is one of the most debilitating disabilities to have when looking for employment. The CLP works with the Department of Rehabilitation to help find employment for students after they graduate. There is also an initiative to help the students gain work experience over the summer called the College Link Summer Work Experience Program, working with local organizations to build work experience, interspersed with workshops to build useful job skills.
The College Link Program is important as one of the few university programs dedicated to autism. I think that the assistance it gives students is highly useful and allows students to go further than they would on their own. Hopefully, my documentary and this post give you a better idea of the CLP and what it does.