While at the University of Illinois, I’ve been heavily involved with The Autism Program (TAP). TAP is a statewide network of agencies and universities dedicated to meeting the needs of individuals with autism and their families. As part of my master’s thesis I partnered with TAP at the state wide level and delivered workshops at different TAP sites throughout the state.
There is a TAP affiliate housed within the department of Human and Community Development through the Family Resiliency Center. I’ve worked activity with the local TAP affiliate mentoring undergraduate and graduate level interns, developing and implementing social skills and human sexuality programming, developing assessments and evaluations, providing professional development trainings, and creating and maintaining their website and social media presence.
The social skills group I created for TAP is called Social Discovery. It is a program for middle school children with Autism Spectrum Disorder without co-occurring Intellectual Disability. It uses a triadic model of facilitation where the primary goal of the instructor is to enable and expand interactions between peers while strengthening existing and emerging social competencies. Although Social Discovery incorporates didactic instruction on social concepts, the emphasis is on developing friendships in a structured and intentional environment. Facilitators act as coaches prompting and reinforcing positive social behavior. This program was offered by The Autism Program affiliate of the University of Illinois in the Fall of 2012 through the Spring of 2014. Sessions lasted from 8 to 10 weeks with the opportunity to re-enroll. The group was facilitated by undergraduate students who I trained and supported. As an extension of this program, I developed a one week Career Discovery day camp.