Center for Teaching and Research in Autism


TARA Center Mission

In the last 20 years, the growing awareness of autism, the reconceptualization of autism as a spectrum of characteristics, and improved diagnostic techniques have contributed to an increased demand for specialized educational programs in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary  settings. Many young adults have benefitted from the development of improved treatments and instructional strategies, and are now enrolling in colleges in greater numbers every year.

The TARA Center at Pace University was established to meet the ever-increasing need for autism support services for college students. The mission of the TARA Center is to promote and support research, training and development to increase knowledge and support research to improve the quality of educational services available to individuals with autism

 
TARA Center Programs
 
OASIS Program
A true college experience is more than just courses leading to a degree. The OASIS Program at Pace University’s New York City Campus is a small, inclusive program to enable and empower academically capable young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Asperger Syndrome and other learning differences to succeed in college. OASIS students are matriculated in a bachelor's degree program of their choice, attend undergraduate classes and engage in all facets of campus life. To learn more about the OASIS Program,  click here.
 
OASIS Summer Program
The Social Literacy course is offered six hours a week each summer session to help students develop greater social awareness and build a broad range of social skills through explicit instruction and coaching. The summer courses are also open to students from other area colleges, which provide an opportunity for students to expand their connections beyond Pace University. The curriculum was developed by the current OASIS director, Mary Riggs Cohen, PhD, and has been taught at various universities and Asperger’s Syndrome support programs for ten years. Social literacy classes incorporate social thinking, social modeling and social interaction while drawing from current research in the various scientific disciplines which study social behavior. The Social Literacy course is also offered in the spring semester for current and incoming OASIS students for two (2) college credits.
 
Campus Based Inclusion Program
The Pace University Campus Based Inclusion Program was developed in collaboration with New York City Department of Education District 75 P226M to provide “next steps” for students with autism and developmental disabilities aging out of inclusive high school settings.  The first of its kind in Manhattan, the P226M @ Pace program combines job training, socialization, and academics at the University’s downtown campus.  Based on interests and skills, students work on campus and audit university courses each semester.  A maximum of 12 students participate in the program each year, along with four paraprofessionals and a Special Education Support Service Provider. The students receive additional social/emotional support from PsyD graduate students who facilitate peer support groups that focus on problem-solving and skill-building.

Training and Research
The TARA Center works collaboratively with the Pace Psychology Department and the McShane Center to provide opportunities for PsyD graduate students to have experience and training working with post-secondary and college students on the autism spectrum in the CBIC and OASIS and Programs. The TARA Center staff offer trainings at the center as well as teach undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Education and Psychology Department. Courses related to assessment of autism and strategies for teaching students with learning disabilities associated with autism such as executive functioning deficits, expressive and receptive language deficits and nonverbal learning disorder are offered. The TARA Center is currently part of a collaborative longitudinal research project with the Psychology Department which will examine the needs of college students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at different stages of their academic careers.