By Adria Nassim, Bloomington Student
When I arrived in Bloomington, IN two months ago, my first thought was that I had boarded some imaginary plane and mysteriously crash landed in a small version of New York. I identified myself with Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz clutching her dog Toto for dear life and saying, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
My parents sent me to Bloomington to participate in a special program for college students with high functioning autism (Asperger’s) and learning differences called the College Internship Program.
In this program, which runs from August of 2008 to July of 2009, students focus on obtaining life skills such as learning to cook nutritious meals, use public transportation, be employed in areas of particular interest, as well as working toward college degrees by getting academic credit at either Indiana University Bloomington or Ivy Tech State College. I will be attending IU Bloomington to continue working on a minor in Spanish. I will be taking Hispanic American Culture and hopefully adding more classes for the spring semester.
I am pleased to say that with time, the anxiety which initially overwhelmed me has gradually ebbed and given way to pleasure and a gradual feeling of security. I have made several friends here, most of whom have the same differences I do (Asperger’s Syndrome and/or nonverbal learning disorder) and all of which are very open minded and accepting of my situation.
Later this year, I am hoping to possibly get an internship at a local Head Start center working with Hispanic children and children with developmental delays. I may also work at another local school or do some volunteering for Barack Obama.
I may not be in Kansas, but wherever I am I know I’ll be okay. My parents can’t believe the gains I’ve already made in just a few weeks: crossing the street on my own, understanding the concept of a budget, and walking somewhere and finding my way back home by myself. Who knows what I’ll be doing by the time October gets here? Maybe I’ll be driving! Okay…Maybe I’ll wait until Christmas to try that.
Adria Nassim is a first-year student at CIP. She wrote this article on her experiences for her previous college’s newspaper, The Broadcast, of Brescia University in Owensboro, Kentucky.