About Us

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THE PROGRAM

The NeuroVersity approach is grounded in evidence-supported research (iSTAR project at the University of Utah) and emphasizes community-based participatory research methods and cooperation with community-placed organizations and services.

Temple Grandin, a noted autistic and author, visited our program in the Dalles, OR, during the summer of 2013. She stated, “This is a great project that will help many kids with [autism spectrum disorder] gain skills they can be proud of and share with others.”

The NeuroVersity model is an educational program designed to provide youth and transition-aged adults on the autism spectrum with an opportunity to demonstrate their skills through technology while working with their peers to strengthen social skills. Using SketchUp, a free downloadable 3-D graphics design program, students discover how their skills and natural abilities can potentially translate into meaningful jobs.

OUR FOCUS

EVIDENCE BASED PRACTICE:
THE RESEARCH COMPONENT

Family Centered

  • Family members invited to presentations
  • Provide feedback to NeuroVersity team
    • Surveys
    • Interviews
  • Parent training session available
    • Positive transitions to adulthood

Focus on Student Strengths

  • Technology
  • Visual-Spatial abilities (think in 3-D)
  • Create designs based on their own interests

Focus on Student Outcomes

  • Personal
    • Confidence
    • Self-efficacy
    • Emotional regulation
  • Social
    • Engagement
    • Quality of life
    • Social skills
  • Vocational
    • Technology-related job skill acquisition and proficiency
    • Career exploration

The Staff

  • A Mentor who uses SketchUp as part of his/her career
  • Facilitators who are trained to work with youth with ASD
  • Program directors—trained educators and researchers from the University of Utah

In the past four years, NeuroVersity has served over 60 students in 4 states, and demand for the program in additional communities is rising.

TRANSITION

EVIDENCE BASED PRACTICE:
THE RESEARCH COMPONENT

Research shows adults with autism spectrum disorders face particular challenges with employment. In an effort to demonstrate and maximize the strengths, potential, and employability of these youth, the NeuroVersity program was born.

Transition out of high school and into adulthood is challenging for students and parents. NeuroVersity helps with this transition.

  • Focus on student strengths
    • Underestimated students are able to shine
  • Successful experience in a professional setting
    • Builds confidence and self-efficacy
  • Resume-building
    • Students may also add screen shots of their work to a portfolio
  • Short term employment with NeuroVersity (for returning students who meet qualifications)
    • Work skills program with partners like BigD Construction
    • Peer tutoring with NeuroVersity for future workshops
  • Career exploration
    • NeuroVersity is always developing curriculum to add to student experience and career exploration

Staff Endorsements

“Many students with ASD are like oysters building a hard shell over the years, a protection from the failures and disappointments so plentiful in their lives. Through the development of TRUST in an environment that encourages creativity and fun, we attempt to wear away the shell. We glimpse inside their minds, where ability, talent, and mastery shine like hidden pearls and they begin to see the ability within.” –staff member

“One student gave a presentation to his regular education classroom and forgot the flash drive containing his design project. He adjusted his presentation on the spot and decided to focus on teaching his classmates about SketchUp tools, managing the stressful situation skillfully.” –staff member

“One student, who we referred to as our philosopher, created an environment to illustrate that ‘adults are slaves to the economy.’ His design included an enclosed workspace for adults while the children had an open spacious area for play.” –staff member

“The environment is composed of two important domains—physical and emotional. Instructors are responsible for creating a welcoming, comfortable, safe environment in each domain.” –staff member

“One of our students only allowed facilitators to present his project and he made comments from his seat—but on the last day, he got up and explained his design to the amazement of everyone. It was a very intricate design of a workspace in which he created all the elements rather than downloading components from the 3-D warehouse.” –staff member