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Autism Issues Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

New Guide for Autistic College Students

By Staff Editor
Apr 1, 2014 - 1:26:31 PM

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( - The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJF), established a dozen years ago as the first national autism organization to focus exclusively on adults living with autism, has collaborated with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) to produce a handbook for college students on the spectrum containing essential advice, insights, and strategies to advocate for themselves on campus and beyond.

The result is Empowering Leadership: A Systems Change Guide for Autistic College Students and Those with Other Disabilities, written by and for autistic and differently challenged college students.  Hard copies of the book can be ordered via  for  $19.95, with all net proceeds going to ASAN.  A PDF version can be downloaded for FREE on the ASAN site.

The cutting-edge handbook contains in-depth first-hand writings from individuals on the spectrum about such topics as planning self-advocacy events, how to deal with disability discrimination, what schools are required to do by law, how to handle dating and relationships, navigating disability and mental health services, how to cope with and voice frustrations, all aimed at ensuring that neurologically and physically challenged students have a voice on campus.Empowering Leadership is designed to be a valuable resource for college educators and administrators as well as students.

Here's what students on the autism spectrum have to say about Empowering Leadership:

"'Empowering Leadership' is a great resource for autistic students and students with other disabilities. It has valuable information that is useful for not only students with disabilities but for self-advocates of all ages and stages in life.  'Empowering Leadership'  will be useful in college and beyond." - Kristen Guin, Western Kentucky University, class of 2014.

"By providing extensive, accessible information both about broader topics like the role of ‘ableism' in society and specific topics like how to manage a student group, ASAN's Empowering Leadership manual is an invaluable resource for disabled students interested in developing disability rights organizations on their own campuses." - Lydia Brown, Georgetown University, class of 2015.

Linda Walder Fiddle, founder and executive director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, which co-produced the book, says: "Our mission has always included developing resources for adults living with autism to help them achieve their goals and have fulfilling and productive lives." She adds: "The opportunity to attend college provides some individuals on the spectrum with a pathway for achieving their goals, and it is our hope that this never-been-done-before guidebook will enable them to more successfully navigate it."

There is a growing population of people on the autism spectrum that are now attending college or college classes as adults, and some estimates are that nearly 35% are currently able to do so. As more autistic students attend university, new opportunities and challenges associated with including autistic people in higher education have emerged. While universities have been working to accommodate special needs students since the 1970s, much of this has focused around physical accessibility rather than the needs of those who live with neurological disorders.  For instance, students on the spectrum face challenges not only in the classroom environment, but with regard to things such as sensory issues in dormitories and social exclusion from campus activities, as well as accommodations for and acceptance of behavioral eccentricities.

Ari Ne'eman, who spearheaded the handbook with Walder Fiddle, is the founding president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, where he initiates and directs efforts to increase the representation of autistic individuals in public policy discussions.  He is himself an adult on the autism spectrum and a leading advocate in the neurodiversity movement, frequently briefing policy-makers and speaking publicly on autism policy issues.  The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a non-profit organization run by and for autistic people. It was created to empower individuals on the autism spectrum to play a role in the national conversation on autism and disability issues while working to educate communities and improve public perceptions of autism.

Says Ne'eman, "As more and more autistic young people enter college, a new generation of autistic leaders is emerging, and we believe that 'Empowering Leadership' will be a critical tool towards developing that new leadership and swinging open the doors of higher education for all."

To order a copy of Empowering Leadership: A Systems Change Guide for Autistic College Students and Those with Other Disabilities visit


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