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The Autism Network for Deaf/Hard of Hearing
and Blind/Visually Impaired

Autism Research Institute
4182 Adams Avenue
San Diego, California 92116 USA



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Welcome to the summer edition of our e-newsletter. We hope you will find this issue helpful from both an intellectual and practical viewpoint. 
Please let us know if you have any suggestions regarding future issues of this e-newsletter. Email: email us

Best Regards, Steve Edelson, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Autism Research Institute 
College Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Transitioning from high school to college is a big adjustment for all students; for the the roughly 20,000 deaf or hard of hearing students that attend college, the transition is even more challenging.  To help assist with the multitude of changes and new situations, the planning experts at have put together an invaluable resource for college-bound deaf and hard of hearing students.
This free, online reference guide includes:
  • An extensive review of technological accommodations including CART (Communication across real-time) services, Motionsavvy, a two-way communication tool which incorporates both gesture and speech technology, and assistive listening devices such as Inductive Loop Systems, FM Systems, and Infrared Systems. 
  • Tips on transitioning, with an emphasis on the importance of having an advocate.  Students no longer have an IEP to help with accommodations - the student must either have an advocate, or become their own advocate.
  • An overview of the current assistive technologies available such as digital recorders, a list of online assistive technology resources, and a review of the most popular assistive hearing apps which aid studying and college life in general.
  • A section on the most popular colleges for the hearing-impaired, topped by of course Gallaudet University
  • A listing of 10 scholarships that target deaf and hard of hearing college students.
  • Links to other helpful online resources: 
Childhood vision impairment, hearing loss and co-occurring autism spectrum disorder

A study of children in the Metro Atlanta area found that children with vision impairment and children with hearing loss both had significantly higher rates of autism than the general population.   One in 830 children had vision impairment, and roughly 7% had autism spectrum disorder, versus about 1% of the general  Atlanta population of children.  The figures were similar with children with hearing loss: one in 770 children had hearing loss, and about 6% of these children had ASD.
Additionally, it was found that both groups (autism and vision impairment, and autism and hearing loss), showed a higher rate of co-morbid intellectual disability than the visually impaired and hearing loss children without autism.  

Digging further into the statistics, the study found that compared to children with visual impairment without autism, the children with visual impairment and ASD were more likely to be premature and have a lower birth weight.   Among the children with hearing loss and ASD, this group was found to be more likely to be male, and more likely to have cerebal palsy than their counterparts with hearing loss but no ASD.

Finally, children who had vision impairment and ASD were diagnosed later than  the children with no autism (6 years 7 months, versus 4 years 8 months), but there was no difference in age at diagnosis between the hearing impaired children with and without autism. 

'Just don't give up,'  says deaf and autistic student who graduated with honors 
Kyree Smith is an inspiration not only to others on the autism spectrum, but to his classmates as well.   In addition to his autism diagnosis, Kyree is also hearing-impaired.  His mother was told by doctors early on that he'd never speak, and would not be able to keep up in mainstream classes.

Kyree has proved the doctors' prognosis wrong:  he graduated from high school as an honors student, and will be attending Gallaudet University in the fall, where he'll study American Sign Language.    Kyree's plan after college is to have a successful career as a certified interpreter.

After a great deal of social difficulty in middle school, Kyree was able to turn it around in high school, where he joined various groups and developed friendships with his classmates.  His parents credit his success to a number of interventions including speech therapy, occupational therapy -- where they worked on improving his cognitive and motor skills -- and social skills classes, where he learned how to become more aware of personal space, how to try to be more aware of social cues, and how not to perseverate on 'Dr. Who' or World War II planes - two of his favorite topics.  

Kyree, who was born with no hearing in his left ear, had a bone-anchored hearing aid surgically implanted during high school.  The procedure was successful, and for the first time, Kyree had hearing from both ears.

The optimistic young man has advice for parents of children with various impairments: "If your child has a disability or autism, you just can't give up on them". 

College Planning for Students with Visual Impairments

According to the National Federation for the Blind, nearly 60% of blind or visually impaired people are unemployed, and less than 15% will earn a bachelor's degree.  In an attempt to help improve this dismal statistic, has compiled a reference guide for the visually impaired community that offers practical information in a number of categories, including  
  • Tips on making the transition from high school to college.   The guide suggests meeting with a counselor to develop an IPE (Individual Plan for Employment).  Once a tentative career direction has been established, this will aid the student in choosing a major, individual courses, etc.   If applicable to the individual student, the counselor can offer information on a supported employment - at least in the beginning.
  • A description of various  accommodations available at the college level such as large-font presentations, Braille materials, and the availability of auditory software.  In addition, the instructors can provide access to aides who can take notes, or read certain texts to the blind or visually impaired students. 
  • An explanation of nine of the latest assistive technology devices  -- from speech synthesizers to video magnifiers to portable note-takers to five of the most popular apps. 
  • A summary of wellness strategies, including meeting with a disability counselor, conferring with professors prior to the start of classes, and a general plan to maximize integration and inclusion. 
  • The guide also lists 9 scholarships available  for the blind and visually impaired (up to $45,000 a year) and contains links to five additional resources.   
Autism Research Institute, 4182 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116