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Autism, learning disabilities services grow on college campuses

Autism and learning disabilities no longer prevent students from attending college as schools offer more accommodations and private organizations provide additional support; however, cost of services still represent a barrier for many students.

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Autism and learning disabilities are becoming more common on college campuses, prompting growth in university and private services. Callie Boik, College Supports Program Cordinator, left, sits with Tony Saylor, 22, in a classroom at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

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As he sits in class at Eastern Michigan University, a flood of images streams from Tony Saylor's vibrant, creative mind down through his pen and onto paper.

Often, his doodling features the 9-year-old character Viper Girl who battles monsters with her pet fox Logan. Saylor, 22, has even self-published three books of their adventures.

Saylor's professors didn't exactly welcome his constant drawing, but once he explained it was the only way he could hope to process their lectures – and even to stay awake – most let him continue.

For college students with autism and other learning disabilities, this is the kind of balancing act that takes place every day – accommodating a disability while also pushing beyond it toward normalcy and a degree, which is increasingly essential for finding a meaningful career.

 

But Saylor and a growing number like him are giving it a shot. Students who would once have languished at home, or in menial jobs, or struggled unsuccessfully in college, are finding a new range of options for support services to help.

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