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May 14, 2018

Adelphi departments team up to provide personalized learning experience for students with autism spectrum disorder

Young Professional in a Conference Room

Dana Battaglia, a speech language pathologist and assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, had often talked with Mitch Nagler about working together to benefit students in the Bridges to Adelphi program for people on the autism spectrum. They finally did this fall, when Nagler, who is the Bridges director, came to her for help with a problem. He’d organized a group to prepare eight students for internship interviews at the Northwell Health network, but the group was falling apart.

Professor Battaglia, whose area of specialization is autism, immediately identified one of the problems. The name of the group, “Communication Skills,” was one that would alienate students, as it only pointed to an area of deficit; she suggested changing it to “Talking Success.” Then she recommended that the group focus on the specific challenges facing each student, which she helped determine by contacting the human resources director at Northwell to learn about the tasks each would perform and the skills that would be required. Bridges staff put the plan into effect, working with two students from Prof. Battaglia’s department to run the group meetings. Prof. Battaglia spoke with the group’s leaders each week to offer advice, then conducted practice interviews for each student as a final step in their preparation.

The results were remarkable. Five of the Bridges students won internships, working in Northwell’s research, information technology, communications, customer service and physical therapy departments. And two of the students were then hired as Northwell employees.

See more about Bridges at

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