Camp Taylor
(From left to right) Kristen Bean, Shelley Morgan, Nan Carle, Carolyn Warden, Stephen Marshall, and Denise Gallagher comprise the team that developed the Camp Taylor program. Submitted photo

Becoming successful in college, a career and socially can be a challenge for anyone. But for people who have Asperger's syndrome, autism or other disorders, it can be even more difficult.

A new program at Arizona State University is designed to help those affected by disabilities take the next step in their lives after high school. Camp Taylor is a four-day program that offers life coaching to such students.

The camp is for students ages 14 to 22 and will encompass the varying aspects of post-high school life, with focus on teaching them how to be successful, both educationally and socially, on a college campus.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident and president of the Asperger's Parent Network, Carolyn Warden, came on as a consultant for ASU to help give input on the development of the program.

Warden has a child of her own who has Asperger's and she knows first-hand how difficult that transition can be.

"They have a tendency to think in very concrete terms and don't know how to predict the unpredictable nature of everyday life," she said. "With Camp Taylor they are going to see what it is like on a college campus."

That includes activities like role playing where students are presented with a scenario that might normally make them uncomfortable, such as test-taking anxiety or if they have to ask for help with financial concerns.

"We are making it real but we are also making it fun," Warden said. "The camp helps them develop their voice. Life-coaching is not counseling or therapy, it's more of the day-to-day, down in the trenches and practical solutions."

There was an absence of such programs, Warden said, for this specific age range of students with these types of disorders. High schools have special education but for those students looking to take the next step, options are somewhat limited.

"The difficulties are a lack of structure," she said. "We want to start younger than adult to help in this transition. We know there are going to be tens of thousands coming out of high school, and then what?"

Camp Taylor is conducted by the Initiative for Inclusive Communities Life Coaching at ASU. The group has accepted 15 students with room for 30.

The camp will be from July 11 to 14 at the ASU downtown Phoenix campus. To find out more, visit the website, http://iic.asu.edu/camptaylor, or call (602) 496-1470. The cost of the camp is $350.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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