The Center for Autism and Neurodiversity (CAN) is a student-centered program that provides support for current neurodivergent Drexel students in the areas of academics, social competency, self-advocacy, interpersonal skills, independent living, and social integration. The goal is to ensure that CAN participants take advantage of University life and develop the academic and social skills needed to pursue and sustain career opportunities.
CAN professional staff may assist students with self-advocating, course registration, securing tutoring, time management, organization, and communicating successfully with instructors. CAN professional staff members may help students learn tools to manage dorm life, interact with peers, and take advantage of the numerous opportunities on campus and in the community.
CAN professional staff work closely with University faculty and various administrative offices. In addition, they communicate, as needed, with parents who have the proper releases regarding student progress and any concerns that may arise. Students will receive at least five hours of direct contact each week with program staff including academic coaches, mentors, and the director — depending on each individual student's needs.
All undergraduate and graduate matriculated Drexel University students who identify as being neurodivergent and/or face challenges typical of those with a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), severe ADHD, Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder, or non-verbal learning disability are best supported by CAN. Students do not need a formal diagnosis to receive support from CAN.
The majority of an advisor's time is spent on coaching. Coaching is meant to help students develop skills that enhance their productivity and performance. This may mean that students will be challenged to work differently (harder, smarter, etc.). Students that are willing to learn from mistakes and are motivated to do well at Drexel are most successful.
In Order to Be Successful at Drexel and in CAN, Students Must:
- Be capable of doing college-level work
- Be able to live independently away from home in a dorm if they are not a commuter or online student
- Be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at Drexel University
- Complete the CAN application process, including an online application form and an online interview with staff
- Have some experience in independent living at home (using a morning alarm, performing chores, etc.)
- Have worked without the assistance of a one-to-one support aide by the time they graduated high school
- Have the ability to independently address self-care and hygiene needs
- Have the ability to self-administer and manage any medications
- Have the ability to follow Drexel University's student Code of Conduct policies, including self-regulation
- Have the ability to independently navigate Drexel's campus
Interested students must be admitted through the typical admissions process to Drexel University prior to applying to CAN. Students must first confirm their admission to Drexel University, then complete and submit the CAN program application with their letter acknowledging their attendance to Drexel University prior to May 15. In addition, applicants must have an online meeting with CAN staff. While not required, it is highly recommended that a student visit Drexel University's Disability Resources office prior to applying to CAN.
Advisors do not have access to student grades during the quarter, but we encourage students to review grades with their CAN advisor during meetings.
Communication between the CAN advisors and parents or guardians is limited. Advisors' roles are to help the student become an independent, contributing member of society. The more time that advisors spend with parents is less time that advisors have to spend with students. CAN staff may contact family if students miss meetings and they cannot reach the student by text or email, for example, or if there are concerns about the student's safety and well-being.
Students are continually encouraged by CAN advisors to provide updates to their parents or guardians as part of the family check-ins.
CAN staff encourages family members to include students in any communication they feel is important to share with program staff.
Disability Resources provides reasonable accommodations to students, faculty, and professional staff with disabilities to give them equal access, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). CAN provides support in other areas where a student might have challenges, such as social skills, executive function, communicating with others on campus (such as peers, advisors, and faculty), and time management.
Drexel offers many other supports for students, such as: