On Your Marq program supports students

Diversity+and+inclusion+efforts+have+continued+at+Marquette

Diversity and inclusion efforts have continued at Marquette

On Your Marq is a program that seeks to support students with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pervasive Development Disorder or Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder throughout their time at Marquette.

This college success program uses an individualized interdisciplinary approach to provide academic, social and professional development support to its students.

“The program shows students on the autism spectrum and the rest of campus that ASD students belong here on campus, that they are deserving of higher education and that they can make a difference within society,” Bernadette Heitschmidt, rehabilitation counseling intern for On Your Marq, said.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior.

Pervasive Development Disorder refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills.

Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder is a persistent difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication that cannot be explained by low cognitive ability.

On Your Marq was founded by professors Amy Van Hecke, Mary Carlson and Wendy Krueger as a part of the Marquette Autism Initiative.

The Marquette Autism Initiative offers programs and services for autistic children, teens, adults and their families facilitated by student trainees and credentialed faculty.

Other programs offered by the initiative are the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills and Marquette University Summer Communication, Literacy and Enhanced Socialization Camp. 

On Your Marq’s main goals are “to have students who participate be successful not only in the classroom, but also socially and to be gainfully employed or enrolled in graduate work in the field of their choice upon graduation,” Emily Raclaw, director of On Your Marq, said.

Students must apply for the program and interview. After that, they may be offered a spot in the program.

The cost of the program is $3,000 per semester. This money goes toward offsetting the costs of individualized support, materials for the weekly seminar and specialized training of faculty and staff.

The first two years of the program focus on the students’ transition to college academics. The second two years of the program focuses on finding students’ strengths and skills to transfer into their career and life after college.

On Your Marq has four main areas of support: academic, social, independent living and mental health support.

“I think one of the best things On Your Marq does for students on the spectrum is that it provides them a place where they can be understood,” Ryan Lynch, a student in the program and a sophomore in the College of Communication, said.

Skills taught by On Your Marq include time management, study skills, academic and career planning, organization, interviewing skills, communication skills, relationship development, social events, self-care, dorm life, self-advocacy and stress reduction.

“One of the biggest problems with people such as myself who have Asperger’s Syndrome is that we really struggle with self-advocation, and I believe that On Your Marq has really helped turn that around for me,” Lynch said.

On Your Marq assigns each student an academic coach, a mental health coach and a peer mentor. 

The academic coach meets weekly with students to check-in on homework assignments, make sure that deadlines are being met and to assist with planning out the upcoming week.

The mental health coach provides a weekly or bi-weekly check-in with students to understand how they are managing life.

The peer mentor is a fellow student that will promote getting involved on campus and socialization.

The program also includes weekly seminars and tutoring.

“We hope to make more people aware of On Your Marq,” Raclaw said. “We want Marquette to include neurodiversity in its definition of diversity and we’re hoping to increase campus partnerships to help educate and dispel stereotypes about people on the autism spectrum.”

This story was written by Bailey Striepling. She can be reached at bailey.striepling@marquette.edu.