Mercyhurst, Watson Institute plan Asperger summer program

The Watson Institute of Pittsburgh’s ACCLAIM (Asperger’s/Autism College and Community Life Acclimation and Intervention Model) Program will be offered as a residential summer program at Mercyhurst College this year in collaboration with the college’s new Asperger support program.

ACCLAIM is designed for college-bound teenagers with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism. Many adolescents with these disorders have the cognitive ability to attend college but lack the social, organizational and daily living skills to be successful there. ACCLAIM helps adolescents get a “preview” of college prior to enrollment.

The partnership with Mercyhurst is ideal in that Mercyhurst has long served the needs of students with learning disabilities through its Learning Differences Program, directed by Dianne Rogers. Two years ago Mercyhurst became one of the first schools in the region to specifically address the higher education needs of students with Asperger’s Syndrome, operating a pilot program during the 2008-09 school year called The Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM).

Now in its second year, Mercyhurst’s Asperger’s support program is built upon a foundation of self-advocacy, social skills and sound academic progress. Students interact with faculty and a qualified staff of professionals from throughout the campus and receive a full complement of social and educational services. Eight students are enrolled in AIM this school year.

“Because of their commitment to help students with Asperger’s Syndrome, the
ACCLAIM@Mercyhurst program is a natural fit,” said Joe McAllister, director of psychological services at The Watson Institute. “We look forward to a productive partnership.”

Visit The Watson Institute's Web site for more information on ACCLAIM. To learn more about Mercyhurst’s programs for students with learning differences, and specifically the new Asperger’s initiative, e-mail Dianne Rogers at, or call her at 814-824-2450.
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