College Students with Autism


On the surface, Logan Johnson appears to be your average quirky introvert. The 20-year-old would much rather be in his room drawing up comic characters or surfing through Netflix than be at some frat party on the block. When it comes to school work, Johnson knows his weaknesses and strengths, that he has to study far harder than anybody else.

Johnson is one of many young adults on the less- affected end of the autism spectrum known as Asperger’s. Children diagnosed with this disorder are often highly intelligent although socially awkward,  and usually, end up attending college alongside their peers.

“He walked across the stage just like everybody else and received a regular high school diploma,” says Wanda Johnson, Logan’s mother.

Johnson was able to take the ACT exam, scoring an 18, which enabled him to enroll at Northeast Community College. However, since most young adults with this condition did so well in school,  it is assumed that they will be able to handle the academic pressures of college just like anybody else.

Many colleges and universities throughout the country have programs to assist people with various kind of disabilities such as dyslexia and Aspergers.

It is perfectly normal for American students to struggle to adjust to the challenges of college: dormitory living, sudden independence, rigorous classes, and a new social world. Add having a mental disability in the mix, and the transition can be more abrupt, dramatic, and scary.  The hardest part for many young adults with Aspergers is that the Individualized Education Programs (IEPs, for short) that helped them from elementary through high school disappear in college.

During high school, the board managed to have his speech classes during lunch time since he felt uncomfortable eating at the school’s cafeteria, says Ms.Johnson.

But now that he is in college, this convenience no longer exists. He found himself, like many young adults with Aspergers; that they are now  away from the watchful eye and structured world of parents, principals and special education teachers. Which means having to take control of their organization, communications, and fend for themselves.

According to recent research done by the The Interactive Autism Network, young adults with ASD have low rates of employment and education after they leave high school. They were less likely to be employed than youth with intellectual disability, a learning disability, or a speech/language impairment. More than half of the youth with ASD had no job and no school participation in the first two years after high school, a higher percentage than the youth with those other disabilities.

NorthEast Community College in New Albany has its own set of issues as well.

“ Emily Pollard is the only councilor in the whole department, and has 84 students with autism on campus,” Johnson explained. “However it is up to the student, to go to her and say “hey I need to take a test’ or ‘i am struggling with this or that.’”

Johnson admitted that it can be particularly hard for someone who already struggles with communication to be so vocal and upfront about their needs and wants.

“It’s not an excuse but it is very difficult,” Johnson said.

Unlike high schools, colleges require students with autism to ask for what they need. Students must provide proof of their disability and request accommodations through a disability services office.

“We always recommend that to students who come in and say that have been diagnosed with Aspergers, dyslexia or whatever to contact the office of Disability Services,” says Alexis Liberto, president of Autism Speaks at the University of Mississippi.  “But we always ask to see an updated report of their diagnosis, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, but if they feel that their disabilities are interfering with their studies, we recommend them to get retested.”

Johnson believes that early detection is crucial and plays a very vital role in getting the child the help they need to ultimately succeed in life

“ I believe that early detection is very important, in getting early therapy and really working with your child”. “ It will make a huge difference in his progress as he goes into adulthood.”

Logan has diagnosed almost two decades ago when he was just a toddler. Like many parents of children with autism, Johnson didn’t think much of the symptoms at first.

“ I assumed that had something to do with him being the youngest and{that} we spoiled him,” Johnson admitted.  Having grown up in a family of eight, the Texas native noticed that her younger siblings were more dependent and slower than the others. Since Logan is the youngest of five, his mother didn’t think too much when he wasn’t reaching benchmarks in speech and coordination skills.

““ My youngest brother was spoiled , so I just thought that’s what it was.”   “So I just thought that he  didn’t talk, he would point or maybe grunt, I just thought that was his way to get what he wanted.”

When asked if she noticed a change after her son received the MMR, she says didn’t notice any changes in personality and that she doesn’t believe that the shots made her son the way that he is.

Johnson believes that parents aren’t the only ones who need education on how to detect symptoms.

“ We need to educate our teachers to notice the because a lot of these symptoms disguise themselves as ADHD and other things.”

His diagnosis made him qualified for special education and Individualized Education Program(IEPs at his school. The school managed to have his speech classes during lunch time since he felt uncomfortable eating at the school’s cafeteria, says Ms.Johnson

Johnson has been by her son’s side from the very beginning, ensuring that he always had the help and  the assistance that he needed


“Can the Confederate Flag Make You Sick?” and the latest on the Carlos Moore case

Professor D’Andra Orey, professor of political science at  Jackson State University gave a Brown Bag lecture at the university titled “Does the Confederate Flag Make You Sick?”

The idea for this topic came in light of the federal court case where the plaintiff, a black Mississippi man, Carlos Moore, argued that viewing the Confederate flag caused him harm. Despite this claim, the 5th Circuit  Court of Appeals ruled that any emotional trauma caused by the flag from a legal standpoint was irrelevant.

According to NPR, Moore claimed to have suffered from the “painful and offensive” flag, which caused him to feel like a second class citizen. Moore’s alleged suffering wasn’t just psychological but physical as well; he cited to having endured high blood pressure and anxiety.


For Orey, he can see a lot of himself in Moore and relate to the pain he is experiencing.  In his lecture, Orey used both his own personal experiences along with the  research he has been collecting since 2001.

This topic hits close to home because the flag had a psychological impact on me… so much so, that I left the state,” Orey said.

Back in 2001, voters voted to maintain the Confederate Flag as a part of the state flag.

“ I was very optimistic that it would change and when it failed it felt like a kick in the gut,” Orey admitted.  At the time, Orey had been living in his native Mississippi for two years after a decade of absence. “ I  was feeling very hopeful about the potential for the improvement of race relations.” In addition to this, he had also been conducting research that concluded that support for the flag was a function of old-fashioned racism.

Orey hopes that his lecture will raise awareness of the often not thought about effects of racism.

“The takeaway for students is to be conscious of elevated stress levels and focus even harder during times of protest on mental and physical health.”

Moore on the other hand, even though his case was rejected by the court, the vice president of National Bar Association, plans to take his case up to the Supreme Court, as he stated in a Facebook post.

We are going all the way to the Supreme Court! New Yorkers have taken notice and are wishing us well! Thank God for the Yankees!”


RASA, UPD discuss Crime alerts, bystanders, and new safety app

 On Tuesday  RASA, a  new group on campus aiming to raise awareness on sexual assault held a  panel due to the recent crime alerts pertaining to sexual violence.

The panel, moderated by Lindsay Bartlett Mosvick, project coordinator for the Violence Prevention, was composed of both sexual assault experts and members of the University’s police department .

The panel included Elizabeth Romary, regional representative for the It’s On Us campaign, a grassroots student-led group launched by the White House to combat sexual assault.  

Discussions covered everything from crime alerts to preventative measures that can be taken to help prevent sexual violence.

RASA  hold various lectures and programs to help educate college students on relationship violence, stalking , and how to be an active bystander.

“We basically do that through our peer education program through our events,” says Corbin  Smith, RASA’s president. “ Our peer education programs is an interview process and once people are selected, they go through an 8-hour training hosted by our faculty advisor, Lindsay,” explained Smith.

 The officiers were asked about the recent crime  alerts that have been issued by UPD, opening the discussion to what is a crime alert and how are they launched.

“ Honestly  we recently have had a few sexual assault incidences that occurred , and that was the reason for the alerts going out to the campus community , along with what steps you could take to stay safe out there,” says Kendall Brown, Lieutenant for  Administrative Services.

Thelma Curry, Captain of Support Operations points out that there various different crimes could qualify to be put out as a crime alert such as a burglary, active shooter, or another threat which could jeopardize the safety of students.

“There is  no set format for what information goes into a crime alert,” Curry said. “Once that person comes in saying ‘I’ve been assaulted’ we put out the notification.”

However, there is a time limit whther a report will lead to a crime alert or not.

“If they come forward like two three days after the incident, we aren’t going to put out a crme alert,” Brown said.

Darby Hennesey, a Greek Life student asked the panel how to combat the culture of victim blaming on campus.

“Changing societal norms and culture starts with one person and grows out,” answered Romary. Romary went on to point out that contatry to some beliefs, on a national scale the fall semester has the highest rates of sexaul assualt on campuses , due to the incoming of new freshmen and the leftover excitment from summer.

UPD’s Jeffery Kellum discussed a new app called Livesafe with the audience, discussing  how useful it can be in a risky situation.

The app will allow the user to view notifications, get in contact with the UPD even if can’t call from where they are, whether that be due to noise or lack of signal.

An audience member asked Officier Brown whether most   sexaul assualt cases occur in Fraternity houses. and properties.

“There have been some reports{from fraternities} recently, but we get a lot of reports fro the dorms and other areas,” Brown said.

” Due to these recent alerts combined with the current spring party season, that’s where a rumor like that would start,” Romary said.

Whatworks#7 Airport Police drag man from Aircraft after refusing to give up seat

I decided to write about this article I found in the New York Times on the United Airlines passenger who was forcibly removed from his seat, beaten bloody and ultimately dragged out of the aircraft by police.

According to the article, an unidentified man refused to give up his seat after being bumped was beaten and dragged from the plane by security guys.

There are various sources here, the two passengers who documented the struggle between the man and the officers on video.

A spokesman for the airline, Charlie Hobart was interviewed  via telephone defending  the actions of the policeman

“Since that customer refused to leave the aircraft, we had to call” the police, and they came on board, he said.

 However, the Chicago Department of Aviation  disagreed in a statement saying that the incident didn’t “was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure.”

Seth Kaplan, managing partner at Airline Weekly, an industry publication was also quoted saying “to an airline, an empty seat is basically the same thing as stale bread. It’s something they can never sell again.”

Statistics from 2016 from the Transportation Department revealed that United Airline has involuntarily denied boarding to 3,765 of its more than 86 million on oversold flights.

What Works#6

New York Times’s writer Stephanie Cortez has recently published an article about the possible retreat or  “halt” towards progressive views of women in the workforce and a resurgence of traditional views of gender roles.According to several  surveys, polls and statistics that have been  monitoring  the views of younger generation for the last 40 years, it seems that millennial men are more in favor traditional family structures than their elders

The writer opens this article with defining who and what is a millennial, while also quoting a prominent professor from Columbia, Jeffery Sachs who called the 2016 election results “a blip” on the road to an “egalitarian” society.

The writer also points out that millennials aren’t monolithic, that they vary from class, race, religion, income, and education.Cortez then uses various statistics and quotes several people in academia  The survey that the bulk of the writer’s point is based from, focused on men’s views on male superiority of the breadwinner role in 2014 vs.1994. In 1994 about 83% of men rejected the role of the male-breadwinner superiority. By 2014, that had fallen 55% whereas women’s disagreement fell far less with 85% in 1994 to 72% in 2014.

“It Starts with Meek” Journalism Competition

The “It Starts with Meek” Journalism competition is dedicated to promoting diversity, inclusion, and respect, a campaign being held by the Meek School of Journalism in April. The program runs from April 19-25, covering various social issues from racial tensions to mental and physical health challenges.

The competition was a culmination of the ideas of the “Competitions Committee” of the “It Starts with Meek” team,” says Bess Nichols, one of the contest’s main organizers.

Although the University deeply encourages journalism students to participate in various regional and national competitions, there haven’t been many competitions from the institution itself.

“This is the first year that this campaign has occurred, but a similar one, called “Diversity Rocks” took place a few years ago and also put on a competition,” continues Nichols.

Another organizer, Robin Street, believes that the main theme of the campaign is to open up the mind of students, to pause before they assume they understand someone based off of their gender, race, religion or sexuality.

“The reason we are doing this campaign is spelled out on a poster on my office door. ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’,”Street said.

Street believes that these sort of contests are very essential to have programs like this especially considering the fragile political divide in the country today.

“Today’s political climate is dividing us and we hope our programs and events will help educate all of us about many factors. We have programs on race, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities, mental health and many other topics,” Street said.

Although both IMC and Journalism students are encouraged to participate, the competition is not limited to only them.

“We really want students to know that they don’t have to be in IMC/Journalism to submit their work to either contest- anyone can submit their work to any of the contests,” Nichols said. “We’ve already received interest in the competitions and are so excited to see all the submissions from our talented students.”

One competition, particularly for IMC students gives them the opportunity to choose to write for either category: a print advertisement or a Snapchat Geofilter.Participants are encouraged to use the campaign’s theme color purple along with the existing logo.

Students are asked to submit an original feature story, editorial/essay/column or broadcast package that relates to inclusion and diversity. The subject may be on someone who had endured through discrimination or has learned a lesson from stereotyping.

“I think journalism competitions, when you are in school, are a good way to motivate people,”s ays Bill Rose, a journalism professor.

Rose believes that competitions that are devoted to the notion of diversity are not only helpful to those planning to enter the media field but can be a very educational experience.

“I think when you compete against people, you learn something about each other,” Rose said.