Mission and History
The mission of the Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst is to educate college students living with Autism Spectrum Disorders in a program that equally emphasizes academic and social competency.
Public awareness about Asperger Syndrome (AS) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has increased over the past few years. Despite the awareness of documented superior intellectual capability of many students with AS, there are few colleges and universities that provide for the successful immersion of AS students on campus. AS students’ social awkwardness challenges these students and can be a barrier to success.
Recognizing this need and untapped potential, in 2008-09 the Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) was developed and a successful pilot program was launched. Five students excelled in a number of academic venues, including one who was inducted into Phi Eta Sigma, the Freshman National Honor Society, and admitted to the Dean’s List. These students met with faculty and staff to develop the structure of our program; student input has shaped Mercyhurst’s vision of what students with ASD require to be successful on this campus.
Our program focuses on a collaborative model that promotes the development of self-advocacy and independent living skills to encourage sound academic and social progress. Recognizing the role that parents have played in their students’ lives, families are consulted when appropriate in matters of concern.
Additionally, this program is founded on a campus-wide model of collaboration. A representative from all administrative offices including Financial Aid, Residence Life, Police and Safety and Dining Services have had input into designing this program. This partnership has helped foster both academic and social growth in our students and contributed to their overall sense of satisfaction with their Mercyhurst University experience.