Nonverbal to College Grads – Interview with Collins Foster
On today’s episode we welcome Collins Foster. She is the wife of a co-worker of mine and has almost 20 years of experience in the higher education system in Georgia. She has worked with both the technical college system and the university system of Georgia. Although her background is in marketing and alumni relations, in the past few years she has realized her true passion, which is advocating for and with a group of non-speaking students with autism in the Atlanta Metro area who really want to graduate from college with a degree. Collins is currently working for her Masters in Social Work and when she gets her license, wants to be transitioning into the disability services arena within higher education. She lives outside Atlanta, has a husband named Chris and 8 year old daughter named Emerson. Today we hear Collins journey, learn more about the non-speaking communication methods that are revolutionizing higher ed for autism students and the growing opportunities for students with autism who want to be accepted into college.
Key Points From This Episode:
- How Collins came to babysit for an autistic child and the family she ended up worked with for over twenty years.
- Alternative and Augmentative Communication: The non-speaking student with autism that didn’t have the adequate communication tool and the breakthrough that moved Collins to tears.
- If you haven’t been able to communicate what you really wanted to communicate, your entire life, where do you start? Using letter boards for non-speaking children.
- The five students with autism that wanted to go to college and the course taught to them by a Duke University graduate student.
- How Collins got involved in higher ed for autistic students and her focus on family dynamics and administration.
- The GED journey: Assessing and placing students in the GED prep courses for.
- The students who are not wanting to be cured but rather, accepted.
- Motor functioning impairment and the Rapid Prompting Movement / Motion (RPM) method.
- The story from India about Soma, autistic son, and the RPM therapy center she founded called HALO.
- Breaking into the academic world and allowing education to be an opportunity for the deaf (parallels to the autistic student group).
- Collins’ vision to integrate letter boards into everyday society.
- How Atlanta’s Every Voice Matters organization grew from 4 to 100 and the support they offer the non-speaking community.
- The college student with autism who aims to start his own autism therapy center called ReCliff, a multi-purpose facility that will support the overall growth and development of autistics and their families..
- Why can’t students with autism sit in the classroom? The answer is, they can. Segregation, integration and the civil rights movement in disability and education.
- Always presume confidence in your child or student. Always.
- And much more!
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- Finding Mikey Podcast Facebook Page — https://www.facebook.com/FindingMikeyPodcast/
- Collins Foster on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/collins.s.foster?ref=br_rs
- Elizabeth Vosseller Speech Pathologist – http://www.growingkidstherapy.com/about-gktc/our-team/elizabeth-vosseller-ma-ccc-slp/
- HALO Therapy Center for RPM – https://www.halo-soma.org/learning.php
- ReCliff Go Fund Me Page – https://www.gofundme.com/reeces-rally-for-reclif
- Deej Movie – https://www.deejmovie.com