Autism Services/LIFE Project
The Learning Independence for Empowerment (LIFE) Project, developed in 2009, is a program for students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Asperger Syndrome, or other social-cognitive deficit. Within this program, students participate in workshops, presentations, and projects as well as participate in interactive games and socialize. LIFE Project is run by the Autism Services Coordinator with the Bob Murphy Access Center (BMAC) and other experienced professionals.
During the LIFE Project meetings, students work on social interactions, time management, and fine tune self-governing abilities to navigate the campus more efficiently as well as learn skills needed for careers. The program promotes independence and autonomy through social interactions, coaching, and role-play. There is no fee for students to participate in this program.
Students from various majors apply as interns to work with students that have autism on social and communication goals once or twice per week. Peer mentors provide weekly educational coaching on an individualized basis. Some of the topics of the meetings include social anxiety, networking with peers and professors on campus, using the relationship rating scale, and concerns related to social networking. Peer coaches provide employment related support. The LIFE Project staff works closely with the WorkAbility IV (WAIV) Program at CSULB to provide seamless employment opportunities for LIFE Project students.
LIFE Project students attend workshops every Friday, presented by LIFE Project peer coaches, campus partners, and community agencies, covering topics such as:
- Navigating the campus: socializing with peers and talking to professors (self-advocacy)
- Having conversations and listening to others
- Understanding the importance of how others think (Theory of Mind)
- Learning to change your behavior based upon other's reactions, compromising, and flexibility
- Dating: Recognizing if someone is interested in you; learning how to make or accept an initial approach; dealing with sexuality and sexual issues
- Job Skills: Searching for jobs, attending interviews, appropriate work attire, skills needed to retain employment
- Handling frustration, anger, and anxiety
LIFE Leadership is a component to the LIFE Project that serves students who are at the junior, senior and graduate level. Students develop and refine career development and leadership skills. This group of students practices presenting, providing constructive feedback, and leading their own workshops. The LIFE Project staff works closely with the WorkAbility IV (WAIV) program on campus and with the Department of Rehabilitation. If you would like more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIFE Project staff strive to meet the needs of all students. A focus of the LIFE Project is to promote awareness that revolves around supporting faculty and staff in:
- Understanding the strengths and limitations students with ASD and Asperger's Syndrome experience in postsecondary education
- Diffusing or deescalating situations that may seem malicious or threatening
- Knowing how to refer a student you suspect may have autism for services
Faculty Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How can I refer a student to BMAC if I am unsure as to whether they have a disability?
Tell the student that you know of support on campus that has been helpful to students who are experiencing similar challenges. You do not need to diagnose students or say that they may have a disability.
- Can I reach out to BMAC for consultation and support for a challenge I am having with a student?
Absolutely! Please feel free to contact BMAC. BMAC specialists hold disability expertise in coaching and counseling students who present any challenges that present like autism.
- Can my department receive specialized training for specific issues we are encountering?
Yes! Please feel free to contact BMAC for any training or consultation needs.
- What does LIFE stand for?
Learning Independence for Empowerment
- What can I do to support my student at CSULB?
Ensure that you check in frequently with your student by asking them about how they are doing. The transition to college is difficult for many students, so being in frequent contact with them is vital. Please feel free to contact BMAC if you have any questions about your student’s involvement in the LIFE Project. BMAC does not recommend that you contact instructors directly.
- How much does the LIFE Project cost?
There is no fee to participate in the LIFE Project. The LIFE Project is available to BMAC-registered students.