Three UW SPHSC faculty members recently launched a new peer mentoring program for UW students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or related disorders, called the HuskyMOSSAIC program. MOSSAIC stands for Mentoring, Organization and Social Support for Autism Inclusion on Campus.
In collaboration with the UW Autism Center, Research Assistant Professor, Jill Locke and Clinical Instructors Lauren Nehilla and Karen Jacobsen developed this program to provide social and organizational support for UW students with ASD, and to contribute to the increased understanding of best practices in collegiate support of young adults with ASD. From their professional experiences working with this populations, they wanted to address a gap in support and resources for young adults.
Employing undergraduate students as peer mentors, this program provides coachinig and guidance to help students with ASD identify personal challenges and goals related to the college experience, and provide support to help mentees reach their goals. For example, peer mentors help students navigate campus resources, assist them with time management strategies and tools, help them develop strategies for communication with professors or in group work.
Mentors and mentees meet weekly on a one-on-one basis for approximately one hour throughout the academic year (excluding Summer quarter). Group social events for all mentors, mentees and instructors are also held monthly. The program was launched in Winter quarter 2016 and is now entering it's second year. Lauren Nehilla presented about this program at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) convention on November 19, 2016 with a fellow collaborator, Jennifer Schoffer Closson from the University of Montana. Their talk was entitled "Autism Spectrum Disorder in College: Connecting and Collaborating for Educational and Social Success."
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