UM Receives Top Rankings for Service to Students with Autism

September 12, 2017

MISSOULA – The University of Montana recently received a top spot on two national lists for its service to students on the autism spectrum.

Best Value Schools ranked UM No. 7 out of all four-year public and private colleges and universities in the U.S. based on its resources offered in five categories: social, academic, functioning, employment and residential. The study mentioned UM’s MOSSAIC (Mentoring, Organization and Social Support for Autism Inclusion on Campus) program as essential to improving members’ skills through evidence-based practices.

The MOSSAIC program, started in 2012 in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, includes three other campuses throughout the Northwest and provides support for people with autism and related disorders.

“Our MOSSAIC program not only helps students with autism on campus, it also benefits our ‘neuro-typical’ peer mentors by encouraging life-enriching friendships between students with and without autism spectrum disorders," said Dana Fitz Gale, a program coordinator.

With a score of 114 out of 200, UM also made No. 20 on Online College Plan’s ranking of colleges with programs for people with autism. This study highlighted MOSSAIC’s focus on direct speech language therapy, peer mentoring, social evenings, EdReady program support and academic support.

“For a small program, MOSSAIC has significant commitment from faculty and students,” said program developer Jennifer Schoffer Closson. “Beyond MOSSAIC's contributions, these rankings highlight that UM is a campus of acceptance, diversity and innovation.”

Fitz Gale and Schoffer Closson have presented at state and national conferences, including diversity presentations and training for academic advisers, on the MOSSAIC program and the role of neurodiversity within communities.

For more information on UM’s MOSSAIC program, visit

https://coehs.umt.edu/departments/csd/dewit-ritecare-clinic/mossaic.php.  

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Contact: Jennifer Schoffer Closson, director of clinical education, UM Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, 406-243-5261, jennifer.schofferclosson@umontana.edu; Dana Fitz Gale, adjunct assistant professor, UM Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, 406-243-2604, dana1.fitzgale@umontana.edu.