UMaine CCIDS shares impact of collaboration that includes COEHD, Maine DOL

The University of Maine’s Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies recently shared a story on its website highlighting the impact of a collaboration between CCIDS, the College of Education and Human Development, Student Accessibility Services, and the Maine Department of Labor’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

The post profiles Jake, a high school junior on the autism spectrum, and his mom, Christy. Jake was a participant in the Summer 2021 Step Up Program, a multi-week learning experience for high school juniors and seniors with an autism spectrum diagnosis who are DVR clients and have shown an interest in going to college. The story follows Jake as he visits UMaine for a tour and asks questions about programs and campus life.

Step Up began as a successful pilot program in the summer of 2019. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 programs were conducted entirely online. The curriculum involves learning social skills, practicing self-determination, attending a first-year, three-credit college class, and career exploration. The program includes a daylong, online Friendship/Conversational skills Bootcamp, offered by the PEERS® Lab at UMaine and led by assistant professor of special education Sarah Howorth.

The online programs could not provide high school students with the experiences of living together, attending class and working on campus, as envisioned in the original pilot program. However, Jake and his mom were able to participate in a campus tour following CDC guidelines.

Read the full story on the CCIDS website.