Western Michigan University's Autism Services Center (ASC) provides supports for college students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in addition to those provided by Disability Services for Students. These services are beyond the reasonable accommodations provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act and include weekly one-on-one meetings with the ASC coordinator or graduate assistant, workshops and informational sessions, organized social events, and increased communication between students and professors, staff, and parents.
To improve the lives of young adults with ASD by:
- Providing transition services and college preparation opportunities to high school students with ASD who are considering WMU for post-secondary education.
- Supporting students with ASD once on WMU’s campus in collaboration with the Office for Disability Services for Students (DSS)
- Helping students prepare for part-time employment during their time at WMU and for a career after attaining a degree
Information about the supports provided by the ASC at Western Michigan University can be requested by completing the Contact Us form.
We look forward to meeting you!
Kourtney Bakalyar, Ed.D., BCBA
Autism Services Center
Western Michigan University
The services provided by Western Michigan University's Autism Services Center were developed to support college students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, an official diagnosis of ASD or any disability is not necessary. Services are available for WMU students without disabilities as long as there are resources available.
ASC provides support beyond the reasonable accommodations provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act. These services include:
- Weekly one-on-one meetings with the ASC coordinator or graduate assistant to work on individual short- and long-term academic, social, independent living skills, and employment goals.
- Workshops and informational sessions that address the needs of the ASC students.
- Communication with parents within the parameters of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Supported communication between students and their faculty and WMU staff (advisors, residence hall directors, and on-campus employers).
- Increased social opportunities, such as game nights, connecting students with similar interests, and coordination of WMU peers to be available at meal times or to attend registered students organization meetings or sporting events.
ASC does not:
- Manage students' medication.
- Attend classes with students.
- Have staff that is available 24 hours/day.
- Have access to students' grades.
- Communicate with parents if FERPA rights are not waived.
ASC Application and Enrollment Process
- Students must apply and be accepted to by Western Michigan University.
- Once accepted, students must return a completed ASC application and completed parent questionnaire to ASC.
- When all items are completed and submitted to ASC, you will be contacted to schedule an interview with the coordinator of ASC. Students who have participated in the ASC Summer Transition Program at WMU may be able to waive an in-person interview.
- Services are provided on a first-come/first-serve basis, until capacity is reached. Acceptance into ASC will be based on the date of complete application submission. We will contact you within two weeks of the interview with the decision of acceptance or waitlist status; in most cases, students will know the day of the interview if they have been accepted.
- Once accepted, the $2,000 service charge will be added to the student's WMU account.
What to Expect from the Interview
The interview with the ASC coordinator is a chance for the coordinator to get to know incoming students and their parents, but also for students and parents to get to know the ASC coordinator and services. The student's strengths and needs will be the focus of the meeting. It is also a chance for the ASC coordinator to learn about the student's goals, interests, and comfort with transitioning to WMU.
Events for Current Students
The ASC has teamed up with Western Michigan University's Best Buddies! Students registered with Autism Services Center can sign-up to get involved and paired with another WMU student. Best Buddies holds chapter meetings and social events each month. Past events have included:
- Airway Lanes
- Sky Zone
- Holiday parties for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day
- Campus scavenger hunts
Workshops and Informational Sessions
ASC is excited to be providing these workshops and informational sessions in the fall:
- Study skills
- Test-taking skills
- Tips for better time management
- Search and applying for scholarships
- Tools for coping with stress
- Building and editing your resume
- Preparing for interviews
- Searching for a part-time job
- Dating 101
Contact Dr. Kourtney Bakalyar if you have ideas for workshops or informational sessions.
ASC will be providing a weekly study table for its students in addition to the study table available for students participating in Disability Services for Students Peer Mentor program. Students will receive an email during the first couple weeks of the semester informing them when the study table will be scheduled.
Workforce Recruitment Program
WMU's Disability Services for Students participates in the Workforce Recruitment Program. The WRP is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with college students and recent graduates with disabilities through summer or permanent jobs. Student registration begins Aug. 28, 2017.
First-Year and Transfer Students
As you plan for the fall semester, consider connecting with Western Michigan University's Autism Services Center (ASC) and Disability Services for Students (DSS) at Orientation. We are also available to meet with students and parents during campus visits.
ASC will be at the Parent & Family Mixers for Orientation, stop by to learn more about our services and to meet our coordinator. Additionally, ASC and DSS will conduct meetings with incoming students on the second day of Orientation to get them registered for services and ready for the fall semester. To make the most of this meeting bring a copy of your documentation (e.g., IEP, 504 plan, letters from doctors, assessment reports).
Register for an Orientation Session
Early Move-In Program
For a second year, DSS and ASC are offering an early move-in program for first-year and transfer students who participate in DSS's Peer Mentor Program. Programming will include a schedule walk-through, campus scavenger hunts, training on how to use WMU's Elearning, email, and Accommodate, and events for students to get to know staff and mentors.
Register for a Peer Mentor
Western Michigan University's Autism Services Center saw the need for a program that helps high school students with autism spectrum disorder build the social, communication, and independent living skills they need to make a successful transition to higher education.
Planning is underway for the 2018 Summer Transition Program.
Summer Transition Program Components
- Enroll in a 3-credit WMU course of student's choosing.
- Work in paid on-campus employment for 10 hours a week.
- Participate in instruction focused on pre-employment, social, study, academic, and transition skills.
- Live in a residence hall for 7.5 weeks.
- Meet weekly with a peer mentor.
- Engage in a variety of social opportunities, such as going to the Student Recreation Center, game nights, and movie nights.
Information for Potential ASC Summer Transition Program Students
- Participants are recruited from high school students with open cases with Michigan Rehabilitation Services.
- ASC Summer Transition Program is designed for high school students with autism spectrum disorder who are planning to attend a university after high school.
- Students may go home on the weekends, just as if they were first-year students at WMU.
- For more information about the ASC Summer Transition Program complete the Contact Us form.
Newsletters from the 2016 ASC Summer Transition Program
Six students participated in the pilot Summer Transition Program held during the summer II 2016 session. Read more about their experiences in the newsletters below.
We are excited to announce opportunities to help support and sponsor this year's Summer Transition Program. For more information regarding sponsoring, please see our flyer or complete the Contact Us form.
ASC wishes to express its gratitude to those companies and organizations that have sponsored the Summer Transition Program in the past.
2016 Summer Transition Program
- Platinum Sponsor - Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research
- Silver Sponsor - Novel Responses, Inc.