NPR recently interviewed a graduating senior attending high school in Brooklyn, New York. What’s interesting about this success story is that the star student has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Colin Ozeki will graduate with “an advanced degree” and plans to attend college, according to the article. He credits his academic—along with social—success in high school to a program called ASD Nest.
ASD Nest gets support from New York City’s Department of Education and the New York University Nest Support Project. ASD Nest places students with ASD in general education classrooms with added support from educators who received special training through the NYU Nest Support Project. The program was created because of the high number of students with ASD who do well academically but don’t go to college.
As a member of the first group of students to participate in the program from kindergarten through high school graduation, Ozecki offers insights on the benefits. He credits the program with helping him navigate the complex social and behavioral expectations in school, so that his academic prowess had a chance to shine. Ozecki states in the NPR interview that he doesn’t think he would have done as well or been on track to go to college without the program. “I might have just been this confused person forever, and somewhat underdeveloped,” he says.
The social training in NYU’s Nest Support Project was developed by speech-language pathologist Susan Brennan, who focuses on social pragmatics, social cognition, relationship-based interventions and Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking.