Nisonger Center’s Social Programs department provides education, transition, and adult life services for adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as their caregivers. Under the direction of Dr. Jen D. Wong, the Social Programs department offers the following programs:
Ace! supports college students with autism or similar communication difficulties to confidently navigate the college experience. Through such services as individual and group support and coaching, individualized self-advocacy support, and campus navigation training, Ace! fosters self-determination, academic success, and social connections for students with autism.
Aspirations has served thousands of teens and adults with mild/high-functioning autism and their families in central Ohio. Participants in Aspirations complete a 10-week curriculum focused on social communication, self-awareness, and vocational goals. Graduates of Aspirations are then invited to participate in a number of ongoing social groups and activities. Aspirations participants and their parents benefit from a sense of belonging and community that many have called “life-changing”.
Friendship Connection participants are adults with developmental disabilities who would like to meet new friends and become more involved in their community. Friendship Connection calendars are distributed quarterly, and include events such as going out to dinner, visiting local museums, swim parties, and attending sporting events. Returning in fall 2019 is the very popular 6-week improvisation workshop with final showcase, conducted in partnership with Hashtag Comedy.
Established by Nisonger Center in 2002, Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) is the largest program of its kind, with NCBCs across the U.S. and other countries. Individual book clubs consist of 5 to 8 adults with developmental disabilities and 2 or 3 trained volunteers who gather weekly in local coffee shops and cafés to read a book of their choosing. Reading material ranges from adapted classic novels, popular youth and young adult fiction, and short stories written for people with DD.
Coming soon: Relate to Me
Relate to Me is a universally-designed, small group curriculum focused on relational and sexual health for young adults with developmental disabilities. Relate to Me participants gain knowledge and confidence in navigating important topics such as setting healthy relational boundaries, dating in-person and/or online, and gender identity and sexual orientation. The 10-week program culminates in a mock speed dating event where participants have an opportunity to apply their new skills and knowledge in a safe, constructive setting.
Social Programs Team
- Jen D. Wong, Ph.D., Director
- Stacie Klein, MSW candidate, Program Coordinator
- Karen Krainz Edison, MSW, LSW, Program Manger
- Tracey Manz, BS, Lead Parent Facilitator
- Jillian Ober, MA, Program Manager
- Erin Powers, MSW, LISW-S, Program Manager