Caitlin Van Ermen
Imagine your excitement when you find out you have been accepted to Michigan State University and your full Spartan experience waits. Then comes the anticipation of finding the key that unlocks your ability to transition to college life.
Following the missions of the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, the BOND program (Building Opportunities for Networking and Discovery) maximizes ability and opportunity for students on the autism spectrum. Throughout the year, participants engage in social learning experiences, establish support and skill building groups, partake in individualized curriculum programming, and become exposed to integrative technology.
Halloween brought an opportunity for social events
RCPD Director Michael Hudson remarks, “All too often I heard from parents that their students were not fully engaging in the MSU potential as they needed help getting out of their residence halls and building networks that could help them grow.
Statements like “Can’t you go into that residence hall and get my son or daughter to connect with others?” motivated us.
BOND is now doing that and more. Students are called to join this supportive environment with peers and identify personal goals for growth.”
BOND receives funding by private gifts, the Baldwin Foundation, Office of Inclusion, and the RCPD since it started in 2010. Today, we celebrate continuation grants from the Baldwin Foundation, and Office of Inclusion. The RCPD is appreciative for their generous support of BOND’s missions and financial needs.
Next Steps: Careers Collaborative
An exciting new initiative connected to BOND is the MSU-MRS careers collaborative. This initiative will connect RCPD students to a MRS counselor who will help students overcome barriers to employment. BOND participants will have the opportunity to become involved. The careers collaborative is made possible by the generous support of the Bosco family. The Bosco family approached the RCPD eager to stretch the goals of the BOND program from applying higher education into expanded career opportunities.
Hudson remarks, “The Bosco family was there at the very moment we needed their help. The BOND program was building capacity getting students more involved ”.
BOND was started by team RCPD with the intent of preparing students for future career opportunities and to develop skills over their collegiate years welcoming students with autism spectrum disorders on to MSU’s campus. The involvement is growing in intensity and an increasingly strong proportion of students have registered with the RCPD. The RCPD recognizes the talent and potential of students with autism spectrum disorders, making them highly capable of favorable careers. However, without training or supports, social elements may turn out to be enormous impediments.
Program participant stated, “BOND is undoubtedly the most impactful and engaging program I have been involved in at the university.
At first it was just an avenue through which to network with other students in similar situations, but it eventually led to leadership opportunities, employment, outreach, and deep personal growth.”
Members of team RCPD, Ashley McIntyre and Jessica Diener, are BOND facilitators. The BOND Coordinator, Ashley, meets with students weekly for one-on-one counseling. Both Ashley and Jessica plan community events to create a network support.
Hudson emphasizes, “I am very appreciative for the donor, staff and student commitment to the BOND program.
BOND is helping students develop critical skills that include and connect them at MSU while preparing them for the important career aspects that come next.”