New Program Helps Local Students With Aspergers Syndrome

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A new pilot program at UW Eau Claire is helping some local students with a form of high-functioning form of Autism called Aspergers, learn new skills to improve their social interaction.

The first of its kind program will help area teens and young adults develop the communication skills they need to succeed in work and life situations.

Clinicians will work to educate local businesses and service providers about Aspergers, before taking students out into the community to enhance a new communication skill each week.

"They leave with a package or a tool that will tell them all the opportunities and all the things they have to look forward to," Sandy Pocernich the mother of a teen with Aspergers said.

"It's actively pulling together agencies within the community that are likely to make these individuals more successful in life, so it's not just speech and language pathologists who are helping with social communication skills, it's a team of agencies and professionals," program coordinator Dr. Kristine Retherford said.

She says clinicians will use video clips, role play and live demonstrations to teach those new skills. This year the pilot program will assist two groups of four students between the ages of 15 and 24.