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Teens with Asperger's Invited to Camp Campus in June

RELEASED: March 24, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — Sixteen high school students with Asperger's syndrome will spend a week on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's campus in June to get a sense of what it will be like to attend college.

The Center for Communication Disorders will offer its first Camp Campus June 8-12, a program specifically for teens entering their junior or senior years of high school who have Asperger's and plan to go to college, said Dr. Kristine Retherford, chair of the communication sciences and disorders department.

The camp, funded through a Medicaid Infrastructure Grant, is intended to help teens and young adults develop the skills they need to succeed in school, work and life settings. This will be the first of what is hoped to be a yearly camp opportunity.

"Young adults with Asperger's syndrome typically see the world in a slightly different, yet creative way," said Ann Dybvik, Camp Campus project director. "This different way of thinking can help them become innovative problem solvers and dedicated students when provided with the social skills support they need. Camp Campus intends to capitalize on each campers' unique skills and interests while also teaching important social skills."

Teens who participate in the camp will experience all aspects of life on a university campus, said Retherford, noting that staff from the Services for Students with Disabilities office on campus will be actively involved in the camp. The teens will live in residence halls, use university dining services, use a college debit card and participate in recreational activities, she said. They also will learn new technologies, she said, noting that each student will be paired with a mentor during the camp.

"Camp Campus will introduce the teens to services that are available on most campuses, such as Admissions, Counseling Services and Services for Students with Disabilities," Retherford said. "They'll have opportunities to explore careers, meet professors and participate in fitness programs."

The camp also will give the teens opportunities to get to know other future college students and to improve their social communication skills, Retherford said.

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized primarily by difficulties in social understanding and increased levels of anxiety in certain situations. Individuals may display difficulty in social communication but are typically above-average in intelligence, attentive to detail, and have excellent rote and long-term memory skills.

Application packets for camp can be obtained by calling the Center for Communication Disorders at 715-836-4186 or Ann Dybvik at 715-836-3844.

The camp registration deadline is April 24. Camper selection will be made in mid-May.

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JB

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