The transition from high school to college can be an overwhelming experience for any student. It can be even more so for students with an autism spectrum disorder and/or a related mental health disorder. The Aspire program was created with this thought in mind.
The Aspire program provides students diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and/or a related mental health disorder, ages 17 to 20, with the opportunity to participate in a college campus experience, and to develop social, academic and emotional skills to be successful.
Strategies for coping with stressful environments and situations are reviewed and practiced on an individual basis. In addition, the program focuses on helping students understand expectations for safety related to independent living, on-campus housing and accessing the community.
Students work on developing executive function skills including: time management, organization and planning of assignments. In addition to academic support and instruction, students participate in community-based activities that support social skill development through modeling and guided practice.
Two versions of the program are offered:
- Summer Program - The summer program features a one-credit college course, five nights/six days in a college “dorm” setting, community-based activities, leisure activities, and skills seminars.
- Traditional School Year Program - The traditional school year version of the program gives students the opportunity to earn three college credits, as well as take part in a work experience component. It also include activities offered in the summer program that are aimed at developing executive functioning skills, as well as leisure and community-based activities, and academic support and instruction.
Students can become a part of the program through school referral.