My friend and colleague, Scott Lissner, the ADA Coordinator at The Ohio State University, sent me the following excerpt and link concerning a student with autism who was so discouraged by his treatment at college that he felt compelled to share his experiences publicly. I wish that some 17 years after the passage of the ADA that students with disabilities felt better about pursuing a higher education in the U.S. but unfortunately the story below remains all too common. Many colleges do not see disability as being an important part of campus diversity initiatives. This is of course ironic since disability as a condition affects one in four Americans.
"As I walked home through Central Park one afternoon — having been expelled from Hunter College’s Manhattan dorms that morning — I was so emotionally drained that even the bare trees seemed vivacious by comparison. During my two months as a resident student I’d lost 15 pounds, slept maybe five hours a night, and had constant, vivid, flashbacks of my many humiliations. I spent my days as tense as a hunted animal, fearing the scornful gazes of students who shunned me like they would a person who’d committed a heinous crime. My self esteem was shattered; when enough people look at you with disgust, it’s hard not to see yourself as disgusting. As for why? The best answer I have is that, in this era of tolerance, on a campus where the mere mention of racism elicits anger, I was guilty of being different from my peers.
My most marked difference from the other students is labeled "Asperger’s Syndrome" (AS). …"