Sunday, January 29, 2012

University Providing More than Academics to Students on the Autism Spectrum

ERIE, Pa. -- Nick Pusateri drapes himself across a couch in a bunker-like room in the basement of his apartment building at Mercyhurst University in Erie.
His arms, legs and shoulders bend around one another as if hinged on extra joints. His neatly cropped, reddish-brown hair lies forward, toward his square-rimmed glasses. Pusateri, 22, stares into the Greek mythology book, his face impassive, and his voracious mind begins to feast.
When he was 2, doctors diagnosed Pusateri of Sewickley with autism, a spectrum of disorders characterized by social impairment and communication problems. He's not intellectually impaired; his professors say he's among their brightest students. He just lacks an intuitive understanding of the unconscious gestures, invisible boundaries and tiny signals that weave into our social fabric.
But he's learning.

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