Friday Nov 8, 2019

"The Impact of Bellevue College's Autism Program on Campus and Why It's Important!

Sara Gardner

Program Director/Instructor | Neurodiversity Navigators Bellevue College

Introduced by: Girish Bhatia

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Sara Gardner shared with us details of the Autism Spectrum Navigators Program at Bellevue College, which is for autistic youth and adults. Sara was diagnosed as an autistic person in her early 40’s and is the Director of the Autism Spectrum Navigators Program as well as an adjunct faculty member at Bellevue College. This program has been developed for neurodivergent students and their education.

The Autism Spectrum Navigators program in 2011 started with 13 students and today has 130. It is designed and developed by an autistic person. It seeks to empower a diverse group of students who identify as autistic and want to explore that. The program is set up to help these students learn collaborative problem solving and self-advocacy.

Why does it matter? What is the impact? This program helps these students with self-advocacy, social interaction and helps them understand what they want to do, not what others think they should do. This program helps autistic students who want to learn more about themselves, ultimately and helping them recognize the need “to spread their mind toward others, think about other people”.

On the Bellevue College website is a list of references for dealing with autistic people. In appreciation of Sara’s presentation, President Kim noted a contribution of 1000 pounds of fresh produce was donated to Harvest Against Hunger thanks to a contribution by Fred Barkman.

The Bellevue Breakfast Rotary meeting was opened by “Glory Days President” Kim Shrader. Kit Bowerman led the prayer and flag salute while Kevin Klustner introduced visiting Rotarians and guests.

Kim Shrader commented that Monday, November 11, would be Veteran’s Day. This date was previously called Armistice Day as the as World War I ended on 11/11/1918 at the 11th hour! The holiday was then renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to commemorate veterans of all US wars.

Jeff Cashman reminded everyone that November is Rotary International month and we are looking to once again have 100% of our members donate.

Announcements included Sargent of Arms Kit Bowerman letting members know they would be fined for cell phone use during the meetings. Kim. on behalf of Jason Churney, mentioned our annual thanksgiving Turkey drive was beginning and would benefit Hopelink, the Issaquah Food Bank and the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank.

Girish Bhatia started the 2019 AI4A Kick Off with a film of the 2018 AI4A Run / Walk produced by Rich Martin. He then recognized the sponsors of the event and, in conjunction with Colleen Turner, presented Lisa Greenwald, CEO of Kindering, with a check from last year’s BBRC fund raising. Lisa graciously accepted BBRC’s $15,000. donation to Kindering, gave us an update of their programs and reminded us that “85% of learning happens in the first 3 years of life”. That is why it is so important to have early diagnosis!

About the Speaker

Sara Sanders Gardner brings experience working for Microsoft in their Autism Inclusive Hiring Program; training hiring managers, and managers and co-workers of autistic applicants and employees in autistic communication differences and autism as a culture and as a disability since the inception of the program in 2015. Sara is also the Autism Spectrum Navigators Program Director and adjunct faculty at Bellevue College, and brings seventeen years of experience working with autistic youth and adults. Sara is autistic and was diagnosed as an adult.