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 (MASI) launched as a pilot program with 8 students. Each year since then the program has grown and currently serves 39 students.
MASI 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.
Each semester, students take ½ credit individualized UNIV courses that focus on topics related to the transition into college, campus resources, social skills, identity development, and career readiness with an emphasis on independence.
Monthly social activities for students that consist of activities on and off campus.
“It’s good to talk to people who will always be invested in my personal growth. It is really encouraging and I bonded with them.” – MASI Student
“Sending our son with Autism off to college came with anxiety and worry. We know his limitless potential but he needed the right environment to succeed and be happy. George Mason University and the MASI program provide exactly what our son needs and this has been invaluable in his transition to college academics and college life. the MASI staff, learning specialists and peer mentor work together as a cohesive team in the best interest fo my son. He had a great first semester and couldn’t wait to go back. Thank you MASI!” – Parent of a MASI Student
“I liked hearing the other students’ experiences because it helped me find some similarities between us and it made me not feel so alone.” – MASI Student