Applications now being accepted for ASCEND program at MSU-West PlainsOzark Radio News

WESTERN PLAINS, Mo. – Applications are now being accepted for the new ASCEND program at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP).

The ASCEND (Autism Support Can Empower New Directions) program is designed to help area students with autism transition into college and into a life of personal achievement and independence.

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The program, which is the first of its kind in this region, offers specialized support services to students so they can successfully navigate a traditional college path and achieve their personally chosen goals, officials said. the university.

Program director Mikala King said ASCEND is open to traditional and non-traditional students with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Applicants can be new or current students.

“There is no age limit. If you are currently or will be attending MSU-WP, you can apply for the ASCEND program,” King said.

How to register

New students wishing to apply must follow several steps, including:

  • an application for admission to MSU-WP
  • the application of the ASCEND program
  • provide documented evidence of a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • provide a copy of the most recent high school IEP or 504 plan

Current students must complete the ASCEND program application and provide other documents, King said.

Students who currently do not have documented evidence of an ASD diagnosis, but wish to apply to be a member of the program, can work with university officials to obtain the necessary documentation, officials said. university.

Selection process

Once the application has been submitted and reviewed, students will be contacted to schedule a short informal interview with King. Interviews can be in person or via Zoom, and parents are welcome to join, she said.

A committee will review applications and select students based on several criteria. This includes demonstrating:

  • sufficient emotional and independent stability to participate in all aspects of classes and the campus environment
  • the ability to accept and follow reasonable rules and behave respectfully towards others
  • a desire to participate in the Missouri State-West Plains ASCEND program and adhere to policies regarding attendance and participation in their program of study
  • the potential to successfully achieve its objectives within the context of the ASCEND program content framework

Those accepted into the program will be notified by mail.

A limited number of students will be admitted to the program, so applications should be submitted as soon as possible to be considered for selection this fall, King said. Normally, the application and selection process will begin in early winter for the following fall semester.

Program fees

There is a fee to participate in ASCEND. The cost is $3,000 per semester, plus regular tuition and course fees. The fee is set up to ensure that necessary materials and program team members are available, King explained.

When students have demonstrated success at MSU-WP and less support and skill building is needed, students can then upgrade from ASCEND to ASCEND-M (maintenance) at a cost of $1,500 per semester, a- she added.

King said several financial aid options are available to help students with program costs, including vocational rehabilitation programs that are already in place in the area.

For more information about the ASCEND program, contact King at or visit

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