Autistic Self-Advocacy and STEM: A College Journey

Have you wondered what it’s like to start college classes as an autistic student with a STEM path in mind? What will your strengths and challenges be in a new academic environment? How will you learn a new set of expectations? Autistic self-advocacy is an important step in the college transition. Graduate student Laura Gilmour shares her academic journey so that others can benefit from her experience.

Laura may have taken more time to graduate than some of her peers, but she also achieved many accomplishments. These include graduating with honors and publishing a research paper as an undergraduate. By working at the pace that benefitted her, Laura set her self up for graduate success and continued academic opportunities. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s only one way to do college!


Are you interested in other first-hand accounts about navigating the transition between high school and college? Check out this blog by STEM undergrad Elinore Alms about preparing for the first day of the semester, or this one by Justin Robbins about the value of confidence and self-love. Finally, Patrick Dyer’s take, Autistic and Transitioning to College? What Students and Families Need to Know, is essential viewing. The Asperger / Autism Network is another good resource for students looking for resources to support autistic self-advocacy.

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Laura Gilmour is a PhD candidate in educational psychology at the University of Alberta and an autistic self-advocate. Her research has centred around issues surrounding autism across the life span ranging from sexuality, online gaming, employment, and autism culture. She is actively involved in guest lectures in the Edmonton community which share both her personal and research experience.

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