A Place for Connection

The Activate Program strives to expand the places where our neurodiverse students belong, have a space to build their own identity and network of community, and feel they have pride in themselves and their diversity. You can read more about Activate in the information on this page or click on these links:

The Activate Program: A Short Summary

The Activate Program: A Detailed Overview

Our Program

The Activate Program includes one-to-one weekly coaching, paid mentorship opportunities for students in the group, GWNN (a self-named weekly connection group), monthly dinners and events, a designated daily lunch table, and Snacks & Chats (weekly discussions around college transition subjects).

Activate offers a number of supports for our neurodiverse students including:

  • 1 to 1 Coaching: Weekly meetings with an Accessibility Services staff member provides students with a point person for questions and help in navigating the nuances of college life.
  • Activate Mentors: Paid positions are offered to returning Activate students to mentor new Activate students, providing a rich, welcoming and safe first-job experience.
  • GWNN Group: GWNN, a self-named student group, meets weekly to play board games and socialize as a group to foster belonging and relationships among its members.
  • Lunch Table: To help tackle the challenge of where to sit in the cafeteria, an Activate mentor hosts a designated lunch table in the Sak each day of the week.
  • Snacks and Chats: Accessibility Services staff and Activate mentors hold weekly discussions around college transition subjects such as time management or communication with peers and faculty.

Who is the Program For?

  • Merrimack students who identify as autistic, on the autism spectrum, or Asperger’s.
  • Merrimack students without an autism diagnosis who may exhibit similar behaviors and benefit from Activate.

Autism as Part of Neurodiversity

“If you have met one person on the autism spectrum, you have met one person on the autism spectrum.”

This is a wonderful saying that captures the array or spectrum of our students. Autism is more like a trend of similarities noticed in the world’s neurodiversity than a fixed set of features. Given certain environments or situations, an individual on the autism spectrum may exhibit a variety of behaviors. However, there is such a vast array of how this plays out in someone’s life.

Neurodiversity is the fact that we, all of humanity, are different neurologically. This diversity increases our ability to thrive, innovate, and relate to one another.  One area of neurodiversity is autism, Asperger’s, or other diagnoses or characteristics. Our Activate program for autistic students (and students not diagnosed but could benefit from Activate) is dynamic and adaptive, involving these students themselves in the development process and grows to support our students’ changing needs so that all of our neurodiverse students have a place here at Merrimack.

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