It has been a month of Autism Awesomeness within the College Experience thanks to David Lieberman who is not only our dedicated teaching assistant for several classes…but the first alumnus in the 16-year history of our program who has transitioned to a role as a full-time staff member. We are hoping that others are going to follow in his footsteps and remain confident that David’s success is just another example of how giving individuals with disabilities a chance to reach their potential through gainful employment is not charity or good public relations. It is something that surely enhances the bottom line! Individuals with disabilities are often reliable and are willing to stay with a company for the long haul especially if that particular company embraced them after a sequence of barriers elsewhere. Hopefully, as society becomes more progressive, many of these barriers will be chipped away.

David (featured in the blue shirt in the front of the group) is also a seasoned advocate who recently traveled to Hobart and William Smith Colleges on Thursday, November 11, 2021, to give a speech to the class of Professor Mary Kelly. David has come a very long way since he was a child receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy after he was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum as a young child. David described to the class how ABA therapy helped him with the struggle of having to get a haircut for the first time. The therapy began with very small steps such as his family driving him past the barbershop without actually going inside and then gradually progressed to larger steps such as sitting on the chair without having a tantrum. People on the autism spectrum often have a brutal time with transition and easing them into a new change is a good strategy.

David had a wonderful time meeting all of the students studying to be future educators and experiencing the alma mater of his mother and father, Jackie and Aaron. On that note, we at The College Experience would like to collectively add how much the support from his family has made a difference in David’s unusual success as an adult on the autism spectrum. David is only in his early twenties, and we should have much to look forward to in the coming years as we witness his achievements!