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UT Chattanooga Offers Successful Four-Year ASD Support Program

by Courtney Frederick, ASK Intern

A few years ago, at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, three students approached Michelle Rigler, the current director of MOSAIC, and told her they were receiving the standard disability accommodations, like extra test time. Michelle asked what they needed, and the students replied that they were struggling socially. After some major obstacles, UTC decided they needed a comprehensive program to accommodate students’ needs. By writing curriculum and pulling resources together, MOSAIC has developed the 4 components they have now.

 The first component is a credit bearing course with a letter grade. The fully established curriculum is made of one credit hour class per semester, two classes for each year. Each subsequent year builds on the skills that were developed during the previous year. The first year focuses on transitioning into college; the second year reframes views and identifying strengths that will make the students marketable; the third year explores the social aspect of the workplace; and the fourth year gains real work experience through internships, volunteer experiences, job shadowing, etc. At the end of the program, students will have a degree in their major and an authentic college experience.

 Each year, about 10 students are accepted into MOSAIC. Before students can be accepted into the program, they must be accepted into UTC. Proof of disability must be shown with documentation of the ASD diagnosis on letterhead from the doctor. Once an application is submitted, an advisory board helps guide interviews and the selection process afterwards.

 The fee for MOSAIC is $2,500 a semester. Since UTC’s tuition will be increasing next year, MOSAIC’s fee will also increase by 3%.

 For more information, please visit http://www.utc.edu/disability-resource-center/mosaic.php.

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