Specialized program for Marquette undergraduates with autism disorders gifted $450,000, set to launch fall 2019

Jennifer Walter:

The program is one of only a few throughout the country, Van Hecke said. In-school resources for students with autism are required by law for K-12 schooling, but colleges often lack resources for those students looking to pursue higher education.

Van Hecke said many of these incoming students often have a lifetime of support in place “and then it just stops. Colleges really aren’t set up to handle that.”

Kelli Castillo said DJ was comfortable in high school, doing well in school and enjoying time in the theater group. On the side, he took social skills classes.

“We don’t ever think of him as this kid with Asperger’s. But there are many times when it just comes and hits us in the face,” Kelli Castillo said. “I was blind to think that the comfort level he had in high school would continue in college.”

The selection process for On Your Marq is something that still needs to be sorted out, and Van Hecke doesn’t want to generalize what the first group of participants will be like. A director for the program will be hired between now and next fall, and they will organize interviews for students who have already been accepted to Marquette.