Aspirations Ohio

Aspirations Ohio is a part of the Nisonger Center’s Social Programs (Autism College Experience and Next Chapter Book Club). Established in 2002 by The Ohio State University’s Nisonger Center and the Department of Neurology, Aspirations is a group-based social skills and support program that supports adolescents and adults (13-30 years) with high functioning autism and their family.

Led by program manager Erin Harris and parent facilitator Tracey Manz, group leaders facilitate discussions and activities focused on building social and vocational skills as well as self-confidence and a sense of belonging for teens and young adults with autism. Aspirations also offers resources and support to parents and caregivers navigating their son or daughter’s transition from adolescence into adulthood. 


Aspirations consists of:

  • Introductory social skills and support curriculum– a 12-week group for teens and young adults and their caregivers offered 3 times a year; topics include: 
    • Making and keeping friends
    • Conversation skills and reading body language
    • Independence and responsibility
    • Electronic communication
    • Vocational goals and skills
    • Caregiver resources
  • Monthly Group Reunions– social opportunities within the community on the second Tuesday of each month.
  • Men’s Aspirations– social opportunities for men with autism within the community on the third Sunday of each month.
  • Women of Aspirations (WoA)– social opportunities for women with autism within the community on the second Sunday of each month.
  • Quarterly Social and Leisure Activities (Spring Fling, Summer Picnic, Holiday Parties, and More!)
  • Enrichment Groups (EmployAbility, ASAP, Relate to Me)- dive deeper into those more challenging social areas.

EmployAbility is a skills group for young adults with mild autism that provides a facilitated peer group environment that engages in hands-on activities, discussion, and role-playing simulations. Ultimately, this 10-week program will provide early preparation and practice for participants to reach their fullest potential in the workforce.[/fusion_tab]

Autism Self-Advocacy Program (ASAP) is an 8-week program that focuses on developing and learning about self-advocacy. Self-advocacy is an important tool for independence, but it does not come naturally. Topics include: self-awareness, communication, leadership, rights, and self-disclosure. This program is designed for teens and adults.

Relate to Me is a 10-week program addresses relational and sexual health topics, such as different types of relationships (family vs. friend vs. romantic partner), feelings, thoughts, and behavior (how they are connected, what we can control), dating in-person and online, consent and self-advocacy and sexual health.


Aspirations Enrollment Form to be mailed or emailed

Aspirations Enrollment Packet

Aspirations Covid Precautions:

We will be reducing the sizes of our upcoming groups in order to maintain adequate social distancing. Masks are required for attendance. We will be taking the proper sanitizing precautions before and after each meeting. Please email Erin Harris for additional details.

Upcoming Groups:

Group Name Start Date # of Weeks
Aspirations September 7, 2021 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm 12 weeks
Employability TBA 8 Weeks
Relate to Me September 9, 2021 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm 10 Weeks
ASAP: Autism Self Advocacy Program September 9, 2021 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm 10 Weeks



Phone: (614) 366-3276


Program Manager: Erin Harris, MSW, LISW-S (

Lead Parent Facilitator: Tracey Manz (

Program Aims

Aspirations aims to help members to:

• Develop self-awareness and insight.

• Learn how to experience and foster positive social interactions and relationships.

• Gain insight into the importance of rewarding employment.

• Build lasting friendships

• Encourage independence

• Learn emotion regulation

Program Costs

Aspirations is a Fee for Service Program.

The new Aspirations fee schedule, as of July 1, 2019: Program Fee Intro 12-Week Curriculum New Participants: $800

Repeat Intro program fee (Optional): $400

Caregiver Group Only $475 Program Fee

Relate to Me: $600 Program Fee

EmployAbility: $600 Program Fee

Aspirations Self-Advocacy Program: $600

Monthly Reunions cost of event: Events limited to $25


Aspirations currently is unable to accept any forms of insurance, Medicaid or waiver fees.

Contact your County Board of Developmental Disabilities to discuss coverage and/or reimbursement with your SSA. Often times a pre-authorization must be completed prior to the start of group. Some Health Savings Account and/or Flex Spending Accounts may be utilized to cover fees. Scholarships are available on an as needed basis. D&J Rice Scholarship Application Fillble

Contact Us

Contact Information:

Program Manager : Erin Harris Program Coordinator: Tracey.Manz