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Group Helps Young Adults With Autism Fit In – Disability Scoop

From Disability Scoop: “Dustin Strasser slaps the deck of cards as if he’s trying to squash a bug, shaking the flimsy folding table in front of him. Joshua MacAran, who takes command of the room with a sarcastic cool, gives him a familiar furrowed look that means calm down. Strasser, 19, gets that look a lot. Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, he can get fidgety and doesn’t always realize when his loud noises or sprawling gestures are bothering others. That’s where MacAran, a 31-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome, steps in to help. Like Strasser, MacAran knows what it’s like to be out of the loop on what others consider to be socially appropriate. A few years ago, he was getting fired from food-service jobs after tattling on co-workers when they didn’t strictly abide by rules. Now, he helps run the Monday group at Trinity Cathedral Church, where adults on the spectrum practice social skills before they step into the reality of the working world.”

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Education Week: Student Peer Leadership Boosts School Climate in NYC

From Education Week: “Elvira Quintero and Brander S. Suero come across as effortlessly top-clique at Central Park East High School here. Composed and direct with adults, flocked to by other students in the halls, maxing out on their allowed Advanced Placement courses, and with applications in hand for college after graduation, they seem natural school leaders.

Yet like the achievements of Central Park East itself—recently honored by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Expanded Success Initiative for its “college-going culture”—the students’ success belies unpromising beginnings and years of struggle. Both seniors are part of the school’s College Summit peer-leaders program, which Principal Bennett Lieberman credits with helping administrators and teachers think differently about their students’ potential: not test scores, but resilience and connection to other students as the earmarks of future achievement.”

via Education Week: Student Peer Leadership Can Help Boost School Climate.