UNT Housing’s Collaborative Action for the Neurodiverse (CAN) welcomed its first cohort of students this fall. The housing cohort was developed by the university to alleviate some of the challenges that come with transitioning to college life for incoming students who identify as neurodivergent a term which applies to conditions such as autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Neurodiverse individuals often struggle with soft skills, especially ones that apply in social situations.
CAN helps students navigate campus, creates easy access to resources as well as supplementing existing resources and providing peer mentorship The program also collaborates with various departments and offices across campus to serve neurodivergent students.
“The CAN cohort housing program provides the opportunity for us as an institution to work with this population of students in a way that harnesses access to all of the existing resources and combining that in a way that increase the individual students’ sense of belonging and connection to the institution and others,” said Gina Vanacore, Executive Director of Housing and Residence Life.
The peer mentorship CAN provides comes from both undergraduate and graduates students. The undergrad peer mentors provide friendship and help these students navigate around UNT. The graduate peer mentors are trained in behavior analysis and assist students to identify, develop, and achieve personal and professional goals.
At the end of this month, graduate assistant, Michelle Castillo of UNT CAN will be presenting at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators summit about this innovative residential program at UNT.
“Michele is an extraordinary graduate student who has the unique combination of practical experience working in residence life and the academic expertise in behavioral analysis,” Vanacore said. “Her role really brings the expertise of the researchers into practice. With her position we are able to provide well thought out and informed high impact practices that positively affect the experience of students.”
UNT CAN is housed in Legends Hall for the academic year and is supported by Housing and Residential Life, Counseling and Testing Services, Office of Disability Access, Department of Behavior Analysis, UNT WELL, and UNT ENGAGE. For more information about UNT CAN, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://housing.unt.edu/Cohort_Housing/UNT_CAN.