Thursday, September 20, 2007

College Internship Program offers promise for students with Aspergers and learning differences

Imagine a college internship geared specifically towards students with learning differences and Aspergers. Now, what if I told you that this is not just in the imagination, but a reality which is already up and running.

I first learned about the
College Internship Program,
Or CIP, on the latest edition of the
Disability 411 podcast.
On D-411's Show 47, host Beth Case interviews Janet Miller, the Program Director of CIP’s newly-opened Berkeley, California psite.

So what exactly is CIP?

According to Ms. Miller, CIP is “a residential program for 18-25 (sometimes 26) year olds with Asperger’s and non-verbal learning disability predominantly. We do have some other students who enter.”

The Berkeley Center is the fourth program that CIP operates. The other programs are at the Berkshires in Lee, Massachusetts, the Brevard Center in Melbourne, Florida, and Bloomington, Indiana.

There is a lot of information about the CIP program in the interview. Basically, it is a residential program to work on the social deficits or independent living problems that are common with Asperger’s and learning disabilities, coupled with at least one college class for the students to gain academic experience. It is a 3-4 year program with, what Ms. Miller describes as what appears to be a high cost. However, she emphasizes that CIP does have funding sources available, including an alliance with Sally Mae.

Something I personally found very intriguing in the D-411 interview was the story about Dr. Michael McMannon, CIP’s Executive Director and founder of the program. Miller says, “He will tell you right out on his website that he himself, in his fifties, like five or six years ago, was diagnosed with Asperger’s… Here’s this man who had been a high, high functioning multi-tasker guy, you know, who had an employee, a longtime employee, come to him with a list a few years ago and said, “Michael, here’s a list of twenty traits of something called Aspberger’s Syndrome. You have nineteen of them.” From this, Dr. McMannon drew his inspiration to develop CIP.

For more comprehensive information about the program, check out the CIP web site and also the podcast.
(Note: The Disability 411 podcasts are always posted with a transcript available. If you are unable to listen to the audio, then click on the link and read the transcript. Like I’ve said before, if your work is worth producing in the first place, then it is worth producing in an alternate format.)

Finally, if you want the latest information about the program, CIP also provides updates on the
Asperger’s Syndrome & LD Blog.

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