Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms of Service

Mercyhurst Autism Summer Program

  • Published: 2011-07-07 : Author: Mercyhurst
  • Synopsis: The Foundations Program is specifically designed for college bound teenagers with Asperger Syndrome and high functioning Autism Disorder.

Main Document

Just three years into the Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM), organizers can barely keep pace with the demand for both its college program and its summer immersion experience for high school juniors on the autism spectrum.

Each succeeding freshman class since the first class of five AIM students arrived at Mercyhurst in 2008 has grown: six in academic year 2009-2010, seven in 2010-2011 and eight are enrolled for this fall. But it is the summer program for high school students aspiring to "test the waters" before embarking on a college career that has young people clamoring to get in.

"Our goal this summer was to recruit 10 high school students for our Foundations Program," said Dianne Rogers, director of Mercyhurst's Learning Differences Program. "We ended up capping enrollment at 22 and easily had 50 more who wanted to come in after deadline."

The Foundations Program, slated for July 7-30 on the Erie campus, is specifically designed for college-bound teenagers with Asperger Syndrome and high-functioning Autism Disorder. The program focuses on the development of skills necessary to succeed in college and includes therapeutic, learning and social components. Students will even earn three credits for successful completion of a college course.

The 22 enrollees hail from Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Connecticut and Maryland, with Rogers fielding calls from as far away as Idaho and Florida.

"It's been much more work than any of us could have expected, but the rewards of offering a college experience to students who have been repeatedly told they could never go to college is inspiring," she said.

Rogers has enlisted the support of 15 staff, many undergraduate and graduate students at Mercyhurst and the greater Erie community, allowing for a nearly 1-to-1 staff-to-student ratio. The social skills will be presented by consulting psychologist Janet Pawlowski, a local expert in autism spectrum disorders and founder of KaleidAScope.

Mercyhurst began its four-year college program for students with Asperger's in 2008, recognizing that more and more students with autism spectrum disorders are entering higher education and challenging schools to find ways to help them thrive in the college environment. Already a pioneer in educating students with learning disabilities through its Learning Differences Program, Mercyhurst stepped up to the challenge.

"This population of individuals is very bright, but they have challenges in social skills," Rogers said. "Given these challenges, we need not only to educate them but to work on their social and life skills so that they are able to negotiate the college community - everything from living in a dorm to time management."

Rogers started the summer program for high school juniors last year and is gratified by the response it has received, but not surprised.

"We know that within the next five years, one in every 100 college applicants will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder," she said. "We saw the need to once again take a risk and assume a leadership role in college disability services. I think we made the right choice."

Similar Topics

1 : Parents and Siblings Can be Teachers for Special Needs Kids : Michigan State University.
2 : STEM3 Academy Opens Campuses for Students with Special Needs : The Help Group.
3 : Children with Disability and Public Schools Supreme Court Case : National Constitution Center.
4 : Stephen Gaynor School Shares Benefits of Performing Arts Education for Students With Learning Differences : Stephen Gaynor School.
5 : Language-Based Learning in Children - Unlocking Clues : University of Missouri-Columbia.
From our Special Education section - Full List (65 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.

Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.

List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.

Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.

1 : Epihunter Classroom - Making Silent Epileptic Seizures Visible
2 : Prostate MRI Reveals More Treatable Cancers and Reduces Overdiagnosis
3 : Poetry Event by Those with Aphasia and Trouble Speaking
4 : Siblings of Cot Death Victims Have Four Times SIDS Risk
5 : Exploring Upper Limb Dysfunction After Spinal Cord Injury


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.