The mission of the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) is to facilitate and support the successful adjustment and progression of college students on the autism spectrum in all domains of college life, thereby broadening their vocational opportunities, and enhancing social and community engagement. The AIM program strives to accentuate each students’ abilities within the academic, social, emotional, and independent-living domains, while building new skills within the domains where the student may be deficient.


The Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) was established to support the vast influx of students on the autism spectrum that are applying to Mercyhurst and other universities worldwide in record numbers.  The AIM program is housed in the division of Student Life and was originally housed in the Learning Differences Office. Since 1984, The Learning Differences Program at Mercyhurst University has educated and assisted thousands of students with disabilities to succeed in college; earn a degree and go on to make a difference in the world.

In 2008, Mercyhurst introduced the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) to meet the unique needs of the growing population of college students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The AIM Program focuses on building a foundation of self-advocacy, social skills, and sound academic progress. Mercyhurst has become a leader and a resource for many other institutions across the country. 

Very few colleges and universities across the United States offer a program of collegiate support like AIM for this cohort of students. Too few are equipped to educate college and post-secondary students diagnosed with ASD. For both of these reasons, Mercyhurst and the AIM program have become one of the primary resources in the country for autism support services in the higher education setting.  The broad expansion of AIM’s notoriety and large influx in applications to our program have surpassed even our strongest aspirations from when we started back in 2008 with just four students.

The AIM program serves 60 students on campus every academic year. Since the inception of the program we have added numerous components to AIM to enhance the experience and success of the AIM students on campus and after graduation.