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Autism: A growing hope

*Editors note name of individual changed to protect their privacy.

The book Autism by Lauri S. Scherer reports autism is often viewed as the pediatric crisis of the 21st century.

Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the way children develop and learn. In recent years, the amount of children diagnosed with autism has risen, according to Autism.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 68 children have been identified as having autism.

Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to giving a voice to individuals identified as having autism, reported that about one-third of 50,000 individuals with autism attend college after high school.

According to Autism Speaks, this is because individuals with autism don’t have the necessary resources to help them succeed in college.

This, however, is a different case for universities — such as BYU-Idaho — who have autism

Scroll Illustration by Madison Weaver

mentoring programs dedicated to helping students with autism.

According to the BYU-I Counseling Center, the Autism Mentoring Program was created in 2011 for the purpose of helping students on the autistic spectrum navigate the natural rigors of higher education.

Rachel Turpin is the current AMP coordinator and oversees the success of the program, recruits mentees and student mentors. AMP connects students with autism and student mentors with one another.

Mentees are assigned two student mentors who meet at the least once a week for an hour. During this time, mentors are encouraged to check on their mentees, assess their well-being, set goals and offer emotional support and friendship.

Turpin said AMP is a hidden gem at BYU-I for students who struggle with autism. She further said that the AMP is a program that is growing and continually looking for mentors and mentees to join.

*Emily Truman, a current mentee of AMP and a sophomore studying child development, said the AMP has been a blessing in her life as it has helped her with her goals, assignments and overall well-being.

*Truman said that her having autism involved a poor recollection of facts, assignment dates and important things to do, and it persisted until her diagnosis during freshman year.

To *Truman, the diagnosis of her autism helped her understand herself a little more and enabled her to seek the help necessary for her success, which led her to AMP.

Ashlynn Howard, one of the student mentors of *Truman and a sophomore studying psychology, said AMP is a great opportunity for students to get involved and help out.

Emileigh Nelson, a senior studying psychology, agreed with Howard. Nelson said she regrets having found AMP at a later time, as this is her first semester with the AMP and her last semester at BYU-I.

Both Nelson and Howard rate their experience with the AMP as very positive.

“Instead of helping them, honestly, I feel like they’re helping me more,” Howard said.

Howard said AMP comes with many blessings of service and selflessness. But Howard and Nelson agreed that AMP does come with its occasional difficulties.

Howard said student mentors of AMP may experience difficulties ranging from trying to understand the needs of their mentees to identifying how to best help them.

“I feel like this school has done so much for me, and I love the opportunity to give back and help in any way that I can,” Nelson said.

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