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A new program will provide access to licensed psychologists, doctoral interns, and advanced doctoral practicum students from the School Psychology program to students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

“Research suggests that up to 1.7 percent of degree-seeking college students meet criteria or have been diagnosed with an ASD,” said Brian Wilhoit, director of the Korn Learning, Assessment, and Social Skills Center in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services. “At UT, that’s well over 475 undergraduate and graduate students. The graduation rate, in general, for undergraduates with an ASD diagnosis is approximately 38 percent, well below that of the general student population.”

The Postsecondary Autism Support Service (PASS) program will support a small cohort of students with ASD to help build time management, communication, and social skills—all critical to student success—through intensive individual and group work. Wilhoit said. “The goal is to help prepare these students for life in and after college and get their graduation rates up to 80 percent, similar to peer institutions’ programs.

“We’ve already been working with a few of these incredibly bright students but wanted to put something more comprehensive together. The program will offer nondisabled degree-seeking students with ASD a better chance to succeed by providing key skills and supplementary supports,” Wilhoit said.

Since the services are supplementary, there is an annual program fee of $6,400. The fee is in line with those charged at peer institutions.

The KLASS Center was established with a donation from Tom and Pam Korn to assist students who struggle with the development of the academic and social skills needed to succeed in school. The center is self-funded through a combination of donor gifts, external contracts, and fees for services, and is staffed with a director, three licensed psychologists, a predoctoral intern, a graduate assistant, and doctoral practicum students.

CONTACT:

Jules Morris (865-719-7072, julemo@utk.edu)