Mercyhurst University

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Hurst ranks #3 in top 20 colleges for students with ASD

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mercyhurst University has been recognized once again for its pioneering AIM program. The Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst is #3 among the top 20 “Best Value Colleges for Students with Autism.”

The only two schools to rank higher than Mercyhurst are the University of Alabama (#1) and University of West Florida (#2).

According to the Best Value Schools’ methodology, reseachers created a list of all the four-year, public and private colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer supplementary assistance programs specifically for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After that, they examined each program to assess the quality and comprehensiveness of the resources they offer.

They awarded each program 0, 10, or 20 points based on the quality of support it provides in five categories (maximum 100 points) to make ASD students happier and SAFER on campus. Mercyhurst earned 96 of the 100 points for:

Social (e.g. peer mentoring, social skill development, group activities)

Academic (e.g. tutoring, study hall)

Functioning (e.g. life counseling/coaching, daily check-ins, help navigating campus, advocacy support)

Employment (e.g. career training, résumé and interview help, job connections)

Residential (e.g. designated living quarters, single-room options, ASD-knowledgeable resident assistants).

Mercyhurst introduced AIM in 2008 to meet the unique needs of the growing population of college students diagnosed with ASD.  The Mercyhurst program focuses on building a foundation of self-advocacy, social skills, and sound academic progress.

The program is directed by Brad McGarry, who noted that Mercyhurst has become a leader and a resource for many other institutions across the country. 

"The AIM program is excited to be recognized so prominently," McGarry said. "We continue to provide innovative services for students on the spectrum and are glad that we are being noticed more and more around the country for our dedication, quality of programming and knowledge in serving this cohort of students."