A Student Publication of Lorain County Community College

LCCC responds to closure of ITT Tech

Tim Krezman Staff Writer Many former ITT Tech students from across the country were left dazed and confused after their school suddenly closed in September. Now they just need a direction to turn. Lorain County Community College hopes it can…

LCCC adopts domestic violence, sexual assault policies

Kristin Hohman Editor-in-Chief Domestic violence affects thousands throughout the state of Ohio each year. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, which inspired Keith Brown, Lorain County Community College’s director of Human Resources and Campus Security, and one of LCCC’s Title…

Society of Women Engineers hosts “Careers in STEM” seminar

Kristin Hohman | The CollegianMajor Regina Tellado, LCCC Provost Dr. Johnathan Dryden, Society of Women Engineers advisor Ramona Anand, and Captain Megan Feltz present awards of appreciation during the "Careers in STEM" seminar on Oct. 4.

Kerri Klatt JRNM 151 Lorain County Community College Commons was quite busy Oct. 4 for the Careers in STEM conference. The event was a celebration of Manufacturing Month hosted by LCCC’s Society of Women Engineers and the U.S. Army. The event…

Senate seeks credit rollover plan

Rebecca Marion Managing Editor Lorain County Community College’s Student Senate is pursuing a credit rollover program to benefit students.  Brendan Bennett, Student Senate President, compares the concept to AT&T’s rollover plan. “If you’re a student taking 15 credit hours, you…

Community honors fallen officer – LCCC grad

State Highway Patrol Trooper Valez was killed on duty on Sept. 15.

Andrew Krause JRNM 151 “He had one hour left in his shift,” Rey Torres Jr. said. During that hour, on Sept. 15, Torres’ first cousin, Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth Velez, was killed in the line of duty. Velez, who graduated in…

Campus remembers fallen, honors heros on 9/11 anniversary

Traci Kogut| The Collegian
Members of the Lorain County Community College Student Senate hang up thank you notes from students during this year’s Sept. 11 memorial. The notes will be delivered to local police and fire departments on Friday, Sept. 16.

    Kristin Hohman Editor-in-Chief On Monday, Sept. 12, the Lorain County Community College campus came together to honor and remember those lost during the attacks of September 11, 2001. Members of the LCCC Student Senate accepted thank you notes…

Society of Women Engineers partners with U.S. Army

By Kerri Klatt JRNM-151   Lorain County Community College’s Society of Women Engineers and the United States Army have joined together for three programs starting fall semester to improve army recruitment and retention rates. These programs are provided at no…

A student’s guide to navigating financial aid

Rebecca Marion

Managing Editor

One of the most intimidating prospects of attaining a college education is choosing how to pay for it. Fortunately, there is financial aid for students pursuing a post-secondary education.  With a multitude of financial opportunities available, picking the right avenue to fund a degree can be complicating and confusing.

Among the loans and grants, LCCC offers its students an array of scholarships in a variety of different majors and according to their circumstances. Dawnthea Redwood, a LCCC student majoring in public relations, uses a Diversity Scholarship to fund her education. Redwood applied for the scholarship after receiving a notice in the mail from LCCC that she was eligible. With the scholarship Redwood is taking 15 credit hours.

My classes are all free, I have left over money that I put on a meal card so I can eat here and I buy all of my books with it,” said Redwood. While not all scholarships will cover the entire cost of attending LCCC, they can lessen the financial burden of a college education.


The Trustee award covers 60-72 credit hours of tuition over two consecutive years. It is available to recent graduates a Lorain County high school who have earned at least a 3.7  GPA by the end of their sixth semester of high school. The recipient may use up to 36 credit hours per year, up to 18 credit hours per semester. The award is considered to be a last dollar award, which means that applicants must file the FAFSA. Money from the award can be used for tuition within the University Partnership and as tuition to obtain an associate’s degree at LCCC. To keep the scholarship students must have at least a 2.5 LCCC cumulative GPA each semester.

The Incentive Award for Non-Traditional Students is a scholarship designed to assist non-traditional students gain a college education. The amount awarded to each student can vary and may be used to pay for books, tuition, and other education related expenses. To qualify you must be a non-traditional student who is not dependent on their parents, support a child on your own, a veteran of the U.S, and are over 24. If the applicant has at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and has been deemed by the Federal Government to have no unmet needs, their application will be considered.


The Choose Ohio First Scholarship is offered by LCCC and the University Partnership for students majoring  in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Full or partial scholarships will be awarded. To qualify the student must be an Ohio resident, obtain a 3.0 cumulative high school or college GPA, and declared their STEM major through LCCC in a two year degree program or through the University Partnership. Recipients of the scholarship may be required to tutor peers and they cannot receive the Trustee Scholarship and the LCCC Choose Ohio First Scholarship jointly. The amount given might be based on availability of funds and the student’s progress towards a degree. The Manuel Marín Serrano Scholarship, offered in memory of its namesake, seeks to assist an LCCC student who is active within the community and focuses on Latino advocacy. Aid gained from this scholarship may be used to cover tuition, books, and fees. To be considered applicants must have graduated high school, prove unmet financial need, be enrolled half time in either LCCC or the University Partnership, and are active in the community with preference to the Latino community. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 1.

Listed above are only a few of the options LCCC provides its students to help pay for their education. Others avenues of resource include, a medley of scholarships, credits, and financial aid workshops.

Karen Tijanich, manager of LCCCs Financial Services Staff, wants students to know that the date to fill out the FAFSA for 2017-2018 starting on Oct. 1.  The new date allows students to use their prior 2015 tax return to complete the application. Just because the date has changed “does not mean they will get their award earlier this year, it just means they can get it done earlier,” said Tijanich.  

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please call LCCCs Financial Services Center at 440-366-4034.


Nontraditional and traditional students: Same car, different road

Jeff Sheldon

JRNM 151


Tired of low paying jobs without opportunities for advancement, Travis Robinson, a radiology major, decided to attend Lorain County Community College at age 37.

“I came back to college to pursue a good career that pays well. I’m tired of the rat race of low paying jobs,” Robinson said. This seems to be the driving force for returning non-traditional students.

College can be a difficult decision for anyone. According to nbcnews.com, “About 17% of returning college students are 35 and over.” Most students attend right out of high school, others much later in life, but the goal to obtain higher learning seems the same: better jobs, advancing knowledge and discovering different life interests.

“When I was in high school, I came down with an illness and I wasn’t able to go to college immediately,” said Richard Narrows, 29, a sports, health, and fitness major. “After years of battling it and getting my life back together, I decided college was the only way to have the future I wanted.” He was happy with the reception he received upon his return. “Shockingly it went well,” Narrows said. “There were younger kids but, surprisingly, there were more people my age, also.”  His interaction with professors has been good as well. “The teachers have been very helpful and easy to be in contact with.”

“I think it’s cool some older people come back to college,” said LCCC student Patrick Riley, 19. “Some come to just take classes, but most come to further their careers or better [it]. I think it’s admirable,” Riley, a criminal justice major, stated.  According to inquirersjournals.com,  “by 2019, college entry by ‘adult learners’ (age 25 and older) is expected to increase by up to 28%. The reasons vary, but are generally attributed to the needs of individuals to sustain employment with salaries that will afford a decent standard of living for themselves and their families.”

Dennis Walters, an academic advisement specialist at LCCC, sees both nontraditional and traditional students to help guide them on their journeys. “With [the] nontraditional students, we tend to see people with more life experience and have a clearer direction to go with their studies; whereas, the traditional students may need more guidance,” Walter said.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2011),” nontraditional students have a slightly longer completion to graduation rates due to families, lack of technology experience and work scheduling. Thus, identifying barriers to college completion is imperative to reversing this trend. Proactive intervention, the strategies that address challenges before they negatively impact an entity, requires that academic institutions align their services with the needs of nontraditional students.”

No matter the type of student, non-traditional or traditional, each is really attending LCCC for one reason: personal success at any age.


My journey back to college

Jeff Sheldon

JRNM 151

Submitted photo Jeff Sheldon is a nontraditional student at LCCC

Submitted photoJeff Sheldon is a nontraditional student at LCCC

I took a deep breath and then released the air out slowly as the adviser called my name. This walk to her desk was exciting and filled with uncertainty, but I knew this is something I wanted to try.

Coming back to LCCC after 20 years, I was ready and so was the adviser. She helped me from top to bottom laying out suggestions that made complete sense, along with the ideas about what I wanted to take in college. We chipped away at the school’s curriculum like a couple of wood carvers shaping and shredding away until project was done and now I’m registered and ready for classes to begin.

Roughly around the years of 2007 and 2008 my employers were full of whispers and sad smiles whenever we spoke, and a few of them confided in me that they were losing money and orders in the tire ingredient world were dwindling. That was code to me that layoffs were soon to come. In the back of my mind I knew I should travel up to the college on Abbe Rd. sooner rather than later. But it has been since 1988 that I even had a classroom experience. I wondered; “Would I be able to thrive?”

The first day of classes came and I could still feel a bit of trepidation of a 40-something year-old student. I was prepared to walked in the classroom full of 18 to 20-year olds just staring at me wondering if I lost my way or if I was their instructor. But why would I be moving to sit in the middle of the classroom? None of that could have been further from the truth. I walked in the door and I was treated to a vibe of business as usual and one young student saying “Hey man, how’s it going?” A simple acknowledgement like this put me at ease and made me think that everything was going to be fine. This sentiment carried over to the instructors, as well. The school work was a warm greeting, also. From the syllabus, to the tutoring, and helpful emails from the instructors. The chance to do well in the classroom has many well-lit avenues to explore if one really wants to. It sounds a bit corny to say, but it’s been fun even if I know this is just the beginning.

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be building friendships, learning new skills, and enriching my mind through further education at LCCC, I would have tilted my head slightly to the left while curling my upper lip as if to say “No way friend! I’m a too old for that.”

This has been one of the best life changing journeys I’ve embarked on. The helpful staff, the friendly faces of the more traditional students – the path to a better me is paved with people on that same journey. I’m very fortunate to attend a college steeped in such diversity and cultures. It makes me feel proud of myself and LCCC.

LCCC responds to closure of ITT Tech

Tim Krezman

Staff Writer

Many former ITT Tech students from across the country were left dazed and confused after their school suddenly closed in September. Now they just need a direction to turn. Lorain County Community College hopes it can fill the void.

ITT Technical Institute unexpectedly announced that it was closing all of its 130 locations throughout 39 states, including Ohio, on Sept. 6. This came shortly the announcement that ITT Tech could not enroll any new students who would rely on federal loans, along with many other federal sanctions.

LCCC has started the “ITT Path to LCCC” to draw in former ITT Tech students and make their transition easier. According to Cynthia Kushner, LCCC’s Director of Marketing and Outreach Initiatives, about 95 percent of ITT student inquiries have been about the nursing program. Incoming students are able to take a course the second eight weeks of this semester, and individualized plans should be in place by January.

“They are now working around some of those wrap-around services that we think are going to be needed to fill some gaps that they may have missed at ITT,” Kushner said. “So we want to make sure we are moving them along and making forward progress.”

“We want to maintain the integrity and quality of our nursing program, which is why the wrap-around courses are so important,” said Carrie Delaney from Enrollment, Financial, and Career Services.

Delaney also said that most of the credits are able to transfer. “They are able to transfer except for the psychology. We will have what we are calling boot-camps for some areas that need a little more lift as well as some bridge courses,” Delaney continued.

170 people attended the in-person information sessions that were held. 45 people registered for the webinar information session, which was only for potential nursing students.

New library dean settles in at LCCC

Tim Krezman

Staff Writer

Rebecca Marion | The Collegian Karla Aleman was named Dean of the Library and eLearning in August.

Rebecca Marion | The CollegianKarla Aleman was named Dean of the Library and eLearning in August.

Karla Aleman was named Dean of library and elearning at Lorain County Community College in August 2016. Aleman, who was previously the distance instruction librarian and webmaster at Morehead State University in Kentucky, was looking for an administrative position. The opening at LCCC was one of the first positions she saw.

“A lot of what I was doing [at Morehead State] was focused on building things around students and user experience design,” Aleman said. “This was one of the first jobs that I saw, and it seemed to kind of fit me really well.”

Aleman was excited for the opportunity, since she already had experience with joint-use libraries. It combined her areas of expertise; eLearning and the library. Joint-use libraries merge a public school library and a public library in a shared space. On the LCCC campus,  the Bass Library/Community Resource Center contains both the college’s library for students and faculty, but also the north branch of the Elyria Public Library, along with other community resources.

Aleman graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2004, majoring in Medieval Studies with a minor in History. She received her Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University in 2007.

“I have a really great team of people with me who have been patient as I continue to learn about this position,” Aleman said.

Aleman said she loves the community feel and hopes to get more involved. She said she loved the look of LCCC when she was gathering information about the area.

“I have also been able to meet with and talk to people around campus who have been really patient with me, and they are willing to talk to me about ideas and teach me a little bit how things work here. I have been very grateful for everyone really welcoming me in and giving me the help that I need.” she continued.

Aleman loves the challenges of her job. “I love libraries and I love teaching and learning and I love the online environment. As a librarian I study the impact of the web and technology on people and the way they think. I love that I get to do work in the field that I love,” Aleman said. She has been working in libraries since she was at UC Santa Barbara in 2001. “I’m grateful just to be the leader in that area,” Aleman stated. “It’s kind of a natural tendency of my personality to really want to make an impact and make a change and I’m in a position where I can do that and I want to do it right.”

Fab Lab, Fab Academy construction under way

By Michael Cuevas

JRNM 151

Submitted photo A rendering of what the Nord Advanced Technologies building will look like upon completion.

Submitted photoA rendering of what the Nord Advanced Technologies building will look like upon completion.


The new Fab Lab and Fab Academy, which is currently under construction in the Nord Advanced Technologies Center (AT) at Lorain County Community College, should be completed in mid-December, according to Fab Lab Coordinator Scott Zitek.

Zitek, who’s been a staff member at LCCC for 25 years, said that the construction of this new lab would greatly benefit students in various ways. While the new lab is currently being constructed, students are now located in room PC 107, which is also located in the AT building.

Zitek said the new lab would be more hands-on and students would be able to accomplish more with a wider space to work in.

Another point that should bring more attention to the new Fab Lab will be more appealing compared to the old lab. It will have its own entrance, and will stand out compared to other classrooms.

“The new space is set up to be inviting,” said Zitek. The new lab will include an outdoor area for students to work on lab activities as well.

The Fab Lab also works with private companies because of their wide range of equipment, which lets students and staff create a lot of useful courses.

The Fab Lab isn’t just meant for engineering – digital fabrications, arts and crafts, and wood works are also done there as well.Some of the equipment the lab include; two laser cutters, two 3D printers, and a shopbot that allows people to conduct wood cutting for furniture among other things.


LCCC adopts domestic violence, sexual assault policies

Kristin Hohman


Domestic violence affects thousands throughout the state of Ohio each year. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, which inspired Keith Brown, Lorain County Community College’s director of Human Resources and Campus Security, and one of LCCC’s Title IX coordinators, to take action.

In order to bring attention to the resources offered on campus, Brown complied policies and procedures that set the framework for how the college will respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of gender-based violence. Students can also find information on how to report a sexual assault as well.

According to Brown, this is the first document of its kind at LCCC, and was created to alert the campus community of myriad of services available to them.

“Many students don’t know about the resources offered on campus,” Brown said. “We want students to know they can reach out to us for help.”

If a student, faculty, or staff member reports a situation of domestic violence, either on campus or off campus, there are certain protective measures that are available to the campus community.

If the domestic violence case occurs off campus, security can provide escorts to and from classes and vehicles, and class schedule adjustments if deemed necessary.Certain parking acclimations may be utilized so security can monitor the vehicle. Reporters of such violence can also provide identification information such as photos or vehicle information so security can monitor the perpetrator. Student staff members can also arrange work accommodations as well.

If such cases arise on campus, security can issue what is called a Campus Noncontact Order. Essentially this prohibits contact between the accuser and the perpetrator. LCCC also offers crisis counseling, which is confidential, for any survivors who need a safe place to talk.   

LCCC’s policies also define a variety of terms related to domestic and sexual violence. Sexual harassment is defined as “unwanted sexual attention such as staring, leering, ogling, sexual teasing, jokes, inappropriate text messages…or suggestions that sex can be exchanged for grades or a promotion,” per the document.

In the event of a sexual assault on campus, Brown said that local law enforcement, usually the Elyria Police Department, would be notified and will conduct a formal investigation. Brown said his office would obtain statements from both involved parties. Any reports would be investigated by the campus security office, the Code of Conduct coordinator, or either of the college’s Title IX coordinators, which includes Brown and Mona Atley.

For any Code of Conduct infringements, both the accuser and accused will be notified of any disciplinary hearings and have the opportunity to have selected parties present at that time if the claims pertain to sexual misconduct, including an advisor of their choosing. If the hearing finds any conduct codes have been violated, the individual is subject to “disciplinary sanctions up to and including suspensions, probation, dismissal, expulsions, termination, and prosecution,” according to the policies.

Brown said these procedures were written and released after committee approval. This is the first semester such policies have been documented. Brown did say he would like to update the document at least once per semester or as new procedures are adopted. “This won’t be a static document,” Brown said.

Since 2013, there has only been one reported instance of forcible sexual contact on the LCCC campus. According to the Ohio Attorney General’s website, there were 681 reported domestic violence charges filed in Lorain County in 2015 alone, while 765 reported incidents did not include charges being pressed.  Across the state of Ohio, the total number of reported domestic violence charges was 38,343 for the same year. An additional 30,863 cases occurred where no charges were pressed.

To report any gender-based violence on campus, contact security at 440-366-4053 or 440-366-4444. Victim are strongly urged to contact Brown at 440-366-7692 or Mona Atley at 440-366-4886. Women’s link, Men’s link, and Counseling services also provide additional resources to survivors of domestic or sexual assault.

Society of Women Engineers hosts “Careers in STEM” seminar

Kerri Klatt

JRNM 151

Traci Kogut | The Collegian 
Captain Megan Feltz (left), Staff Sergeant LaShunda English, and Sergeant Johanny Perez (right) speak during the ‘Careers in STEM’ presentation on Oct. 4 on LCCC’s campus.

Lorain County Community College Commons was quite busy Oct. 4 for

the Careers in STEM conference. The event was a celebration of Manufacturing Month hosted by LCCC’s Society of Women Engineers and the U.S. Army. The event was an opportunity for women engineers to share experiences, educate on STEM careers, and

to promote women in the engineering field.

“This event is important because it leads many students to careers and

programs that benefit them through LCCC,” said Dr. Jonathan Dryden, LCCC’s interim provost.

The Society of Women Engineers, announced its collaboration with

the U.S. Army Cleveland Battalion. The two will join together to provide several program options for students. These programs will assist students in career advising, military occupation options, financial benefits, and tutoring to help students be successful.

Michael Flanigan | The Collegian 
Captain Megan Feltz speaks to students about how her career in STEM has impacted her life during the ‘Careers in STEM’ seminar on Oct. 4.

The event provided students, parents, and facility alike to have an opportunity for hands on experience. Attendees were able to use welding simulators and to try freeze-dried ice cream provided by NASA.

Kent Springborn Jr. | The Collegian
LCCC Society of Women Engineers advisor, Ramona Anand gives opening remarks during the ‘Careers in STEM’ presentation on Oct. 4.

Attendees of the event were introduced to several engineers from several occupations. Kim de Groh, Sr. Research Engineer of NASA, gave attendees a brief education and background history before explaining what she does for NASA. An employee of Energizer, Virginia Brandt also spoke to the crowd. Representatives for the U.S. Army were present as well and spoke of the opportunities now available for students.

Senate seeks credit rollover plan

Rebecca Marion

Managing Editor

Lorain County Community College’s Student Senate is pursuing a credit rollover program to benefit students.  Brendan Bennett, Student Senate President, compares the concept to AT&T’s rollover plan.

“If you’re a student taking 15 credit hours, you would get to rollover three credit hours for the next semester,” said Bennett. Rollover students would receive semester credit to their account.

“For example if you take 15 credits and rollover three you get $355 credited to your account. It’s the same thing with 16 credits, you rollover two and you get $216 credited to your account,” said Bennett. The concept came to Bennett during an Operations Council meeting where state legislators prompted higher learning institutions to decrease the cost of post secondary education by at least five percent.  After the meeting was over, Bennett proposed the rollover program to Dr. Marcia Ballinger, the president of LCCC. Bennett suggested the program would benefit the college as well its student population by simultaneously boosting attendance and providing students with a discount. Not long after the ideas proposal, Dr. Ballinger called a meeting with Vice President of Administrative Services and Treasurer, David Cummins, and Dean of Enrollment and Financial Services, Stephanie Sutton, to review the concept.

“It will positively affect students because they will be able to recoup the benefits that are already stated for them,” said Bennett.

Dr. Jonathan Dryden, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic and Learner Services at LCCC, sees potential in the concept. “The conversations just started, but we’re going to have do a little more homework. We think it’s an interesting idea and we’re definitely taking it seriously,” said Dryden.

If implemented the rollover program would aim to incentivize students to take on 15 credit hours a semester until they complete their degree and allow them to take full advantage of the blanket tuition at LCCC. Instead of paying the full price for 13 credit hours, the blanket tuitions permits student to take up to 18 credit hours for the price of 13 credit hours.

“We do want to encourage student to attend full time so that we can help the complete their degree as soon as possible because we know that students who attend full time are likely to persist and more likely to graduate than students who attend part time,” said Dryden

Cummins agreed with Dryden concerning the time it takes students to graduate. As far as number crunching goes, Cummins has a pretty good sense as to what the rollover program might look like, but wonders if it will really provide much of an incentive for students to attend LCCC full time. “In other words I don’t see necessarily changing behavior and I don’t know if it changes behavior like some of the other programs we’ve been kicking around and trying to get started,” said Cummins.

Another program at LCCC, the Summer Achievement Award, uses the same rollover principle, but to a lesser extent. Bennett and Cummins were apart of the team that created and developed the award.

The difference between the two programs is that students wouldn’t have to wait for the summer to utilize the rollover credit. To become eligible for the rollover program students must take 15 credit hours and earn a 2.75 GPA during the qualifying semester.  

Before deciding on whether or not the program will be actualized LCCC needs to determine how it will impact the college financially. However, “It’s more than just numbers and scenarios,” said Cummins, who suggested that furthering the programs development means having more conceptually and philosophical conversations.

Currently the rollover program is still an open discussion. Even though it’s still in its infancy, Cummins claims the earliest it could be made available to students would be the Spring 2017 semester or Fall 2017 at the latest.


Autism and academics

Tim Krezman

Staff Writer

In March 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on the prevalence of Autism in the United States. Autism is identified in 1 in 68 children. (1 in 42 boys, 1 in 189 girls) This number has risen from 1 in 150 in 2000. The increase may not be that there are more people with Autism, it is actually that there is better accuracy with how the disease is diagnosed.

Some people with Autism can easily function in what many would consider “normal” life, while others with Autism may not make as smooth of a transition from the structured life of primary school and high school to the unpredictable world of higher education or even a career.

“Autism is a neuro-biological disorder,” said Rachel Smirz, a LCCC and Ashland University Partnership alumna. She is also a local intervention specialist who works with students with Autism on a daily basis. She continued, “The wires in the brain don’t connect the way they’re supposed to and can cause issues with communication, relating to others emotionally, and [can go] along with some other neuro-biological disorder such as ADHD or OCD.”

The rate of co-occurrence with other developmental disease is about 83% of the time. Even though this is true, about half of all people with ASD are described to have above average intellectual ability.

“Autism Spectrum Disorder really is a large spectrum. You have really low-functioning kids who are nonverbal who communicate with communication devices or sign language, or you have your very high-functioning kids who are very verbal and very intelligent, usually in one area more than another,” Smirz said. “I am currently working with a kid who is extremely high in math who can almost do multiplication in his head at a second grade level, but cannot read very well.”

"Where are all the young adults with ASD?", Oakland University Percent of young adults with autism that attend a postsecondary institution.

“Where are all the young adults with ASD?”, Oakland University
Percent of young adults with autism that attend a postsecondary institution.

Smirz said that students with Autism may have trouble making friends. “In a typical school setting, they would have issues relating to others and making friends would be a huge thing for them because they don’t know how to connect with people. Kids with Autism are very picture oriented. When they’re talking they see visual pictures of things. So to have a friend where you just communicate [by speaking], would be extremely difficult for them. That’s why visual schedules and visual cues are so important, it’s the main way they learn and function.”

She continued, “Idioms are a huge thing. One kid could say ‘it was raining cats and dogs,’ while the student with Autism may be picturing cats and dogs falling from the sky because they don’t understand idioms.”

Smirz said that many teachers don’t understand how to work with students with Autism. “Students with Autism do need the picture cues and visual directions. They need the teachers to slow down, not talk at a normal pace. Teach it or explain it a different way. It might take a million times but it will eventually click with the student, the teacher just needs to figure out how that student is wired.”

She made a reference to a popular television show that may help some understand Autism. “A lot of people speculate that Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory” has Autism. He doesn’t know how to make friends, the friends that he does have accept him for his quirks. He is very schedule oriented. He has to have things done a certain way. Like Saturday night is laundry night, laundry has to be done every Saturday.”

There are a few effective ways to help treat some of the symptoms of ASD. There are different behavior and communication approaches, diet changes, medication which can help with some of the effects of Autism (not to treat the disorder directly), and different alternative medicine. There are things like Occupational and Physical Therapy, speech therapy, and sensory integration therapy to help when things get too loud, too bright or when they want more pressure against them. ASD students often use weighted vests to help themselves keep calm.

A lot of sensory issues go along with Autism. “If they have a sensory need, like the lights are too bright, or it’s too loud, or I can’t have this touching me, they can regulate by doing things like hand-flapping, rocking back and forth or will just shut down and not talk to anyone. This is a way that they self-stim. It is a coping strategy that they have learned so that they don’t go into a meltdown,” Smirz explained. “A lot of students have issues with identifying emotions. They aren’t sure how to feel in a certain situation and what to do when they feel that way. If they feel really angry they aren’t sure how to express that anger appropriately or how to say they’re sorry or how to come down off of that anger.”

“If you have met one person with Autism, you’ve met…one person with Autism,” Smirz said. “If you have met someone who has Autism, they don’t represent everyone who has Autism. They all have different characteristics, they all have different coping strategies and ways to calm themselves down. Not everyone will hand-flap or rock back and forth or need visual schedules but some need these strategies and use them to make it through everyday life.”