As a new freshman at a state university, my daughter’s totally engrossed in college classes and activities. In addition to joining several organizations and interest groups, she decided to participate in sorority recruitment, otherwise known as “rush”.
As a sorority alumna, I’ve been though rush, although many years ago, so I wasn’t totally in the dark about how things operate. However, this is 20 years later, at a different than I attended. I found the process the same in many ways, but it was on a much larger scale, with over 500 girls participating.
Since she’s come a long way with her social skills over the past few years, and can carry on a conversation with almost anyone without them knowing anything’s amiss, she chose not to reveal her diagnosis during this process to avoid being labeled or ostracized. However, Asperger’s Syndrome still presented some unique complications which didn’t mesh well with the process:
- Impulsivity – she posted messages on Facebook talking about rush or certain sororities. Although the messages were all positive, she didn’t think ahead to know that people she had friended on Facebook in other sororities, or at the college in general, might be offended by what she wrote.
- Communication – She wasn’t able to adequately communicate with her rush counselor or her work manager about some scheduling conflicts. This resulted in her having no choice but to withdraw from rush altogether, during the final stages. This could have been avoided if she were more adept at handling this type of situation and necessary schedule negotiations.
- Emotions – There’s a lot of pressure to impress the sororities because of the massive numbers of young women who are competing for a limited number of spots. This, combined with long, late hours attending events, and the subsequent selection (or non-selection) results causes emotional overload, amplified by the effects of Asperger’s.
- Timing – Sorority recruitment occurs during the second week of the school year, when freshmen are just adjusting to being in college for the first time, and in most cases, away from home with new-found independence. It’s a stressful time even before you add rush activities.
Another thought to ponder is… is a sorority the right place for an Aspie? I firmly believe that’s an individual decision, much like every activity an Aspie might be drawn to. It depends on their comfort level and what their college goals are. Although I didn’t have Asperger’s, I was a shy college freshman – the first one in my family to attend college. Joining a sorority gave me an instant group of accepting friends, and great opportunities for leadership development and socializing. I believe this would have advantages for someone who’s has very high functioning autism. Sororities strive for diversity within their ranks — people who complement each other and who share their ideals. Perhaps there are some sororities who are on the superficial side (as depicted on TV and in movies), but by going through rush, a potential member can usually find a sorority they can identify and bond with.
Although it didn’t work out this time, she is considering trying again next fall (recruitment is only once per year). At least she’ll know what to expect and what pitfalls to avoid. In the meantime, she’s finding a ton of activities and causes that fit her interests and enjoying spreading her wings.
Anyone with suggestions or experiences? Please share!