The most significant experience I have had was attending Summer CIP (College Internship Program) for students with Asperger’s and learning disabilities at the University of Buffalo in 2011 and 2012. With CIP guidance, I learned I will be a success in a college setting.
Social skills, organization and time management have always been more difficult for me than neurotypical students. During CIP, I participated in all activities and balanced my time to work on summer prerequisites for school. CIP helped me overcome many of the social impairments that have dogged me for much of my life. I provided support to students not as socially adept. The CIP staff told me I was a natural leader – an achievement I did my best to exemplify.
During my second summer, I displayed this capability when I assisted a student, with a more severe case of Autism from having an emotional “meltdown” when we were unable to find the dining area. I remained levelheaded, and handled the situation. I calmed my friend down and contacted staff notifying them of our whereabouts. I was seen as a leader, who could undertake responsibilities that normally required staff.
I was able to diffuse several dormitory room-mate conflicts and tried to provide a quick solution to any problem. As a result of my experience, the program director is interested in having me work there this summer – a first for a program participant.
CIP has helped me become the person and leader I want to be.”