Earlier this semester, the Michigan State University Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) hosted its annual BOND Transitions Program! The event was a great success and significantly helped MSU students with autism adjust to life on campus.
Building Opportunities for Networking and Discovery (BOND) is one of the RCPD’s signature programs, that was created to connect students with autism and aid in their social development. Participants have access to peer mentoring, skill building events, social outings, and much more through enrollment in BOND. BOND is led by Lindsay Hill, Ability Access Specialist in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Brain Injury and BOND Program Coordinator.
Every year, the BOND Transitions program assists freshmen and transfer students with familiarizing themselves with the MSU campus and getting to meet fellow students. This program allows students to move in a few days early so they can settle into campus before classes start. This year, 26 students participated in the program, which was more than double from the first year that the program was offered. The students arrived on the Monday before classes began and every morning, the group toured campus and had lunch together on Grand River. In the afternoon, students were offered hands-on workshops to help prepare them for life on campus and in college classes. Lindsay mentioned that many students quickly found a group of friends at BOND Transitions and stay in touch regularly. She says “because of this, we have had great participation in our other BOND events. Students are more likely to attend events knowing that they will see some familiar faces when they arrive. They also encourage each other to show up or go with them to the event”. Not only have the students’ made connections through this program, but their parents have as well. A couple of parents have even started a Facebook support group, where they offer advice to other MSU parents.
The BOND Transitions program was a great success this year! Over 90% of the students reported feeling more comfortable with campus after participating in the program and would recommend the program to future students. One student says, “Just getting more familiar with the campus before classes actually start is helpful.” Lindsay explains that for some students, the most helpful aspects of the program were the social interaction and community building. Others found the orientation tours of campus to be the most valuable. The majority of students, however, found specific information presented on the topic of getting ready for classes/college life or campus resources to be the most useful.
BOND continues to offer activities for its students throughout the academic year. In October, BOND hosted a Halloween event as well as a trip to Uncle John’s Cider Mill. Both were very well attended. On a weekly basis, Peer Mentors host events that allow students to build community with one another. The BOND team is looking forward to hosting more events before the end of the fall semester. Lindsay reflects on BOND and the Transitions program by saying, “We hope that as we continue to welcome new students to campus in this cohort model, we will be able to shift much of the planning and leadership of the BOND program to the students so that they can help shape the program into what they really want and need.”
To learn more about BOND, read here: https://www.rcpd.msu.edu/programs/signature-programs/bond
To learn more about BOND Transitions in the past, read here: https://undergrad.msu.edu/news/view/id/240