Unique Autism Program Partnership at University of Arizona

As more strides are being made when it comes to autism, a new program at the University of Arizona is bringing hope to sixteen students with autism.  The new residential program will bring the students from Chapel Haven West – an existing program for individuals with autism – to the University of Arizona in a unique partnership.

The sixteen students will become integrated onto the UA campus in a variety of ways, the most important being with the department of speech, language and hearing science.  UA graduate students will work with Chapel Haven students on a unique program to enhance social communication skills, which are one of the biggest difficulties for people with autism.

The students with autism will be able to work on their skills and the graduate students, in return, will gain data regarding what works and what doesn’t, how well different ideas work, and more.  An additional benefit of this unique program is that these Chapel Hill students will potentially be able to continue their education at UA. 

Even if some students do not end up attending UA after the program, they will still have a unique, positive educational and social experience on campus.  This is not a medical experiment.  This is a special program involving education, integration and inclusion, which are all important issues in dealing with autism.

Since autism affects a person’s ability to communicate, especially because they miss certain communication cues, there are difficulties with jobs, friendships and higher education.  This project will address and hopefully find ways to at least partially overcome these issues.  The Chapel Haven- UA partnership is very unique because most special programs focus on children or adolescents and not college-age individuals.

This partnership will aim at enhancing social communication skills enough that when individuals complete the two year program, they will be able to continue to college or be prepared for employment.  Either way, this will be a win-win situation for all parties involved.

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