In 2014 Disability Services noticed a growing number of students expressing interest in having additional support services beyond the standard accommodations offered in higher education. The staff began researching and consulting with colleges and universities that had ASD support programs in place. In the Fall of 2014 the Mason Autism Support Initiative launched as a pilot program with 8 students. Each year since then the program has grown, currently serving 25 students.
The MASI Program consists of 4 different components:
Undergraduate students that go through an extensive interview, selection, and training process to support social needs of students with ASD. Peer Mentors meet with their mentees one to two times a week connecting them to the Mason community.
Graduate Students or Professionals with experience in the field that support MASI students with developing strategies for academic and social success. Learning Strategists meet with students one to two times a week supporting their academic needs and connecting them to campus resources when appropriate.
First semester Mason and MASI students take a 1 credit UNIV course that focuses on the transition into college and the different resources available on campus. Each semester after the class students participate in groups focused on topics such as social skills, behavioral rehearsal, and career and vocational support
Monthly social activities for students that consist of activities on and off campus.