April is Autism Awareness Month


April is Autism Awareness Month

Autism is a life-long, neurological developmental disability that ranges from mild to severe along a wide spectrum of possibilities.

Usually diagnosed before the age of three, people with autism often have difficulty with language, with relating to others socially, and may engage in repetitive or restricted patterns of behavior.  Autism is diagnosed in equal numbers across all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but it occurs four times more frequently in boys than girls.  There is no simple cause for autism.

As stated by President Barack Obama in his Presidential Proclamation for World Autism Awareness Day 2011, Autism Awareness month promotes the recognition of advances in research and the contributions of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  With each breakthrough in research and each innovative treatment, we open endless possibilities for those touched by autism.

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Want to learn more?

Contact Cathy Felice, Learning Disabilities Specialist at:


Check out this amazing video for a student’s perspective on living with autism! “In My Mind – Asperger’s Awareness”


“It seems that for success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential” – Hans Asperger


“I see people with Asperger’s syndrome as a bright thread in the rich tapestry of life”

– Tony Attwood,

A Conversation With Emily… Helping Us Help You

Tips from a Tunxis Community College Student who is Blind

“I will do the work and I am not afraid of challenges.  I have learned when certain things are in place, I succeed.“ – Emily

Presented by Disability Services for Students, Faculty and Staff


Emily, a Tunxis student majoring in Human Services, enjoys performing in a church choir and accessing videos on YouTube.  She is also a student who is blind.

Emily met with Learning Disabilities Specialist Cathy Ann Felice to share her 9 Surviving College Tips.

“I hope my message helps others to understand and feel comfortable talking with people who happen to have a disability.  I successfully completed four semesters at Tunxis because I will do the work and I am not afraid of challenges.  I have learned when certain things are in place, I succeed.” – Emily

Getting Started

Emily, what do you do to prepare for each semester?

Tip 1 Once registered for classes, one of the first things I do is contact disability services to request textbooks in digital format.  Reading involves listening to a CD or converting print to Braille format.  This takes time so I start as soon as possible and it depends on the textbook information being available.

When do you contact faculty?

Tip 2 I e-mail my professors and introduce myself right away.  It is helpful when a copy of the course outline and syllabus are sent to me as Word attachments.  This information is read by the screen reader on my laptop.

What else goes into preparing for each semester?

Tip 3 I contact Disability Services

in the Academic Support Center for room numbers and come to the campus a few weeks before classes start to practice finding the rooms.


How do you take notes, Emily?

Tip 4 I use my own laptop in class to take notes.

What else helps you when you are in class?

I have a few things to mention here:

Tip 5 It is helpful when faculty use e-mail.  I send my essays directly to the instructor and then if the paper is emailed back to me with comments/suggestions, I have feedback like other students.  I make the corrections immediately.

Tip 6 I recognize people by their voices.  Please say a student’s name when calling on someone.  And if writing on a board, please read aloud so I may take notes.

Tip 7 Also, when handing me a paper, it is important to tell me what it is.  I need to know since it may need to be scanned in the Academic Support Center and e-mailed to me.

Tip 8 If an information video is shown in class, I can hear and take notes.  However, if it is visual with charts or pictures not explained, I will need to meet with someone in the Academic Support Center to describe what is shown.

How do you complete tests, Emily?

Tip 9 I need at least four days notice to schedule to test in the Academic Support Center.  I use a reader and have a scribe if the test is multiple choice format.  I use my laptop for essays.

And as we finish Emily, do you have any updates to share?

Yes, I meet with a rehabilitation instructor from the Board of Education Services for the Blind who is helping me to use my screen reader with the Internet.  Researching when using the Internet is still a challenge because most of the websites add a lot of pictures.  A screen reader is designed for reading texts and does not know how to handle all the graphics.

I hope my tips help others to understand what has helped me; I hope this guide provides direction for all.

Thank you Emily for choosing Tunxis and sharing your tips in Helping Us, Help You!

To speak with a disabilities specialist, please contact:

Cathy Ann Felice  (860) 255-3572

Amanda Testo  (860) 255-3578

Visit for additional information concerning learning techniques, accessibility, adaptive technology and appropriate accommodations for college students who have visual impairments.

Academic Support Center


Our Friendly Proctor Shelly

Submitted by Lori Chadwick

Shelly Castiola is most often found with a smile on her face and a happy word for everyone. She has been married for fifteen years. She lives in Southington, as does most of her extended family, including an independent 99-year old grandmother. Shelly has a nine-year son and a set of twins—a boy and a girl, who are four years old. She loves drawing, painting, photography, and attending art shows. A favorite family activity is playing sports outside, particularly swimming and baseball, and going to Red Sox games.

But those who attend Tunxis Community College probably don’t know Shelly the artist, swimmer, or baseball fan. We at Tunxis know Shelly Castiola as one of the Academic Support Center’s friendly proctors who explains and administers the tests to incoming students. Shelly has an extensive background in educational testing and is a valuable member of the ASC staff.

Shelly graduated from Fairfield University in 1996 with a 6th-year degree in School Psychology. While she was a student, Shelly interned with the Trumbull School System at Cooperative Education Services, a program servicing students on the autism spectrum. After graduation, Shelly’s first position was as the school psychologist for Redding Public Schools. She worked primarily with children in pre-school through second grade, administering numerous multi-disciplinary evaluations to identify students with special needs. Shelly also did a considerable amount of counseling with individual students as well as small groups. In addition, Shelly was available for consults with parents to guide them towards assistance to help their children achieve in school.

After seven years with the Redding school system, Shelly accepted a position as a school psychologist with the “Six to Six” magnet school in Bridgeport, CT, where she worked with K-8 students. After two years in Bridgeport, Shelly left to stay home with her twins when they were born. After taking a year off with her little ones, Shelly began working here at Tunxis in 2006 as a part-time proctor.

As a proctor, Shelly is responsible for explaining the placement testing process to students—how it works, what their scores mean, and how the scores will affect their placement. Then she makes sure the students understand how to use the computer for the testing process. Finally, she helps compile results to mail to students. When needed, Shelly also works with Amanda Testo and Cathy Felice assisting students with disabilities who may need accommodations with tests.

Shelly says that after working with children for so many years, she enjoys the new challenges of working with adults. She appreciates that they are motivated to work toward getting a college degree. She also likes the opportunity to help older students who may not be as comfortable with computers, as well as helping students with disabilities with scribing and reading during testing. Shelly enjoys the helpful, calming, nurturing atmosphere in the ASC. She says she really enjoys working with her colleagues, who she describes as a wonderfully supportive and knowledgeable team of professionals.

A Tutorial on Tutors

Submitted by Lori Chadwick

I’m a Tunxis Community College student who has difficulty with math, and when I took my algebra classes I visited the Academic Support Center regularly for tutoring. Once I was able to master a difficult, frustrating algebra concept after working with a math tutor, it was a huge relief and I was greatly appreciative. One of the reasons I’ve become an English reading/writing tutor is because I enjoy the opportunity to help students as I was helped. It’s great seeing them gain confidence in areas they were previously discouraged in. It’s even better hearing them express the gratitude and relief that I myself had known so well!

The mission of the Academic Support Center is to help students gain the academic skills they will need for college work, and one of the ways they accomplish this is through the tutoring services. The highest demand for tutoring is for developmental math and English courses, although tutoring is offered in other courses as well. Tutoring is free and readily available; tutoring hours are Monday through Thursday 9 AM – 7:45 PM and Fridays 9 AM – 1:45 PM. The number of hours that tutoring is offered necessitates numerous tutors. But who are these many tutors who assist so many Tunxis students?

The tutoring staff consists of peer tutors and professional tutors. Peer tutors are current students of Tunxis. In order to be considered for the position, peer tutors must have completed a minimum of 12 college credits, have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, and have obtained a grade of at least a B in the courses they are tutoring. Students tutoring English must submit a writing sample for review, and those tutoring math must take an assessment before they are hired.

After an individual is selected to become a peer tutor, the budding new tutor begins a semester-long training program. He or she must observe a professional tutor for a number of tutoring sessions and complete a minimum of six hours of workshops before they can begin tutoring. Once the tutoring begins, peer tutors continue to attend training workshops. The Tunxis Tutoring Program is internationally certified through the College Reading and Learning Association, and peer tutors work hard to achieve 25 tutoring hours and 10 training workshops before they are presented with their certification. Even after they are certified, many ASC tutors are eager to learn more and continue to attend new and innovative workshops.

Professional tutors are more experienced tutors who mentor and lead workshops for peer tutors. Professional tutors are also usually available for help if a peer tutor needs it, whether it is in the middle of a tutoring session or at a less pressing time. They also model tutoring skills to peer tutors during tutoring session observations. Professional tutors hold degrees that range from a minimum of an Associate’s degree to a Master’s degree. They often specialize in tutoring subjects related to the degrees they hold.

After being at Tunxis for several semesters, I have discovered at least two things about the Academic Support Center: 1. getting tutored is incredibly rewarding, 2. so is being a tutor!

Disability Update

Submitted by Amanda Testo and Cathy Felice

Accommodation Extended Testing reached a record high during the Fall 2009 semester totaling 323 testing sessions.

Kudos to faculty and staff for collaborating with disability services in order to provide extended testing accommodations and also for support with alternative testing formats to meet the individual needs of students who are blind and /or physically impaired. Students tested in a variety of formats including online, Braille, with screen reader software technology, and with the assistance of traditional readers and scribes.

In addition, now that course outlines and assignments are more and more available electronically, students who rely on the use of adaptive technology can now receive and access information with greater ease and independence. For example, one of our students who is blind was so appreciative to receive an essay with the instructor’s comments (scanned and sent to her email) the same day as the other students. This connection and inclusion in the learning process is the Tunxis difference.

If you are working with a student who requires or would benefit from alternative testing formats, please contact Cathy Felice ( or Amanda Testo ( to discuss accommodation recommendations and/or appropriate options.

Answer to Last Semester’s Newsletter Puzzler

Submitted by Lee Bradley

The Question:
A bartender has a 3 pint glass and a 5 pint glass. A customer walks in and orders 4 pints of seltzer water. Without a measuring cup but with an unlimited supply of seltzer water, how does he get 4 pints in the 5 pint glass? (Hint: The bartender needs 4 pints exactly; you cannot say: “Fill the 5 pint glass 4/5 full.”) There are two possible solutions to this problem.

Solution A
Both “glasses” are empty.
Fill the 3 pint glass.
Pour the 3 pint glass into the 5 pint glass.
Fill the 3 pint glass.
Fill the 5 pint glass from the 3 pint glass, leaving 1 pint in the 3 pint glass.
Dump the 5 pint glass into the sink.
Pour the 1 pint in the 3 pint glass into the 5 pint glass.
Fill the 3 pint glass.
Pour the 3 pint glass into the 5 pint glass.

Solution B
Both “glasses” are empty.
Fill the 5 pint glass.
Fill the 3 pint glass from the 5 pint glass, leaving 2 pints in the 5 pint glass.
Dump the 3 pint glass into the sink.
Pour the 2 pints that are in the 5 pint glass into the 3 pint glass.
Fill the 5 pint glass.
Fill the 3 pint glass from the 5 pint glass, leaving 4 pints in the 5 pint glass.

In some sense, Solution B is better than Solution A because it requires fewer steps and wastes less water!

Correct answers were submitted by Melanie Kelly, Nancy Giudice, Robert Wahl, and David Wright.