Howorth cited in American Council on Education feature on UMaine’s Step Up program

The American Council on Education published a feature story about the University of Maine and the Maine Department of Labor Division of Vocational Rehabilitation’s (DVR) Step Up program, a five-week learning experience to help prepare high school students and recent graduates on the autism spectrum successfully transition to college. According to a report from the National Center for Special Education Research, 44 percent of students on the autism spectrum enroll in a postsecondary institution, compared with 67 percent of the general population. Thirty-nine percent of students on the spectrum who enroll graduate, while the graduation rate for the general population is 52 percent. The story cites a recent interview that Sarah Howorth, assistant professor of special education and program coordinator for UMaine’s graduate programs in special education, gave to Higher Ed Dive about how colleges can better serve students with autism. “There’s lots of room for improvement on college campuses. The typical accommodations that are offered, like note takers, closed captioning, or extended time on tests, are not necessarily what students with autism need,” said Howorth, who added that higher education institutions should provide more programs like Step Up that support students’ interpersonal skills. In 2022, the Step Up program was a collaboration between the state DVR, the UMaine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, the College of Education and Human Development, and UMaine Early College Program, with student accommodations provided by UMaine Student Accessibility Services.