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“Change isn’t exactly easy”: The effects of COVID-19 on Autistic University Students’ Experiences

April 20, 2021 at 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM

Audience:Staff and Faculty

Identifying effects of COVID-19 pandemic related changes on academic and social experiences of autistic university students

This session is being presented by Natasha Artemeva, Jacquie Ballantine and Jasmin Macarios as part of the new Accessibility & Wellness Speaker Series.

The COVID-19 pandemic related isolation measures have caused rapid changes in academic instructional delivery and social interactions. Similar changes and measures are known to have a long-lasting impact on the general population, with autistic individuals sometimes experiencing even greater difficulties than their nonautistic peers. Autistic individuals are now facing an unprecedented change in their daily routines. Given a growing enrollment of autistic students in universities worldwide, there is a need to develop an understanding of the effects of the COVID-19 related a) rapid changes in the mode of academic instruction delivery and b) unexpected isolation measures on this student population. By drawing on interviews with and a survey of autistic university students in Canada, this study has direct implications for the mitigation of academic and social challenges the autistic student population experiences, and, ultimately, for the retention of autistic students under rapidly changing conditions.

About the Accessibility & Wellness Speaker Series

The intended outcomes of the Accessibility & Wellness Speaker Series are to:

  • Increase awareness within members of the Carleton community about accessibility issues and how they relate and contribute to wellness of individuals and the community as a whole;
  • Encourage awareness into action approach through the provision of concrete strategies, resources and connections for participants;
  • Highlight the connection between accessibility and accessible practices and the wellness of individuals;
  • Increase the conversations about accessibility.

Find out more here!

About the Speakers

Natalia (Natasha) Artemeva: Natasha is a Professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University. Her background combines degrees and professional experiences in metallurgical engineering, applied linguistics, discourse studies, and education. Overall, her research interests lie in the areas of Writing Studies (specifically, writing in academic disciplines and professions), non-literary Genre Studies (including forensic genres), and Multimodality. Her research focus has been on the study of genres (different kinds) of writing, speaking, drawing, movement and so on in academic and professional contexts (in English as the first or additional language; considering English for Academic Purposes [EAP] and Language for Specific Purposes [LSP]). More specifically, she is interested in how people become proficient communicators and users of relevant genres in all areas of their lives. Over the years, her research has included studies in the area of school-to-work transition, investigating learning trajectories of undergraduate students moving through their university programs and further into the workplace in Engineering, Medicine, Mathematics, and other disciplines. Currently, she is engaged in a collaborative study that looks at how autistic university students in Canada and beyond learn academic genres. Another collaboration (with Professor Craig Bennell, Police Research Lab, Psychology) and ALDS graduate students has included studies of the genre of the suicide note, writing by violent offenders, and police interviews with vulnerable populations.

Jacquie Ballantine: Jacquie is a PhD Candidate in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University. After almost 40 years of experience working as a speech-language clinician in Africa and Canada, during which she also spent 10 years of lecturing here in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies (SLALS), she decided to enroll in a graduate degree in applied linguistics. She had already qualified as a TESL instructor and taught at several universities and colleges overseas and so after her first year in the MA (ALDS) program she concentrated her research interests at the intersection of her former and present lives. She did this by incorporating her first academic passions, neurolinguistics and communication disabilities and differences, and now her second passions, rhetoric and genre studies. After receiving the MA (ALDS) in 2017, she continued in the department, and she is now a PhD Candidate using participatory research to explore the reported experiences of autistic university students regarding socializing, learning and academic writing on university campuses. The amazing professors and excellent programs in SLALS have led to many interesting opportunities including collaboration with other participatory researchers in Australia. After a full and deeply gratifying career as a clinician, she looks forward each day to bringing together her clinical experiences and her newfound academic and research interests.

Jasmin Macarios: Jasmin is a master’s student at the University of Ottawa in anthropology. Her research interests are in the fields of applied linguistics and environmental durability. She graduated during the pandemic with a B.Soc.Sc. in International Relations and Modern Languages with a Minor in Environmental Studies. She has studied ten different languages and has been to every continent except Antarctica. In her free time she enjoys reading fantasy and scifi novels and writing short stories.


To register for this session, please fill out the form below. You will receive a link to join closer to the date.

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