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University of Montana program provides help for neurodivergent students

The MOSSAIC program supports students who may struggle socially due to autism, anxiety - or even both
MOSSAIC UM
Posted at 8:52 AM, Apr 24, 2024

Neurodivergence is a big word that refers to people whose brains function differently from what is considered "normal." 

A program at the University of Montana is helping college students considered neurodivergent connect, make friends and improve the way they communicate in the world.

Now, the program is about to launch a mini online magazine to share all that information with a wider audience.

“Just because someone is different doesn’t mean they’re different than us,” said University of Montana senior Brylea Beye.

Brylea Beye
“Neurodiversity can be anything from having ADHD, having anxiety, low social esteem — any of that. You don’t have to be on the spectrum." - University of Montana senior Brylea Beye.

Beye and Emma Hinds will soon have their degrees in Communication Science and Disorders from UM before moving on to their master's program.

“Neurodiversity can be anything from having ADHD, having anxiety, low social esteem — any of that. You don’t have to be on the spectrum,” Beye explained.

Beye and Hinds are both involved in UM’s MOSSAIC (Mentoring, Organization, and Social Support for Autism/All Inclusion on Campus) program.

Neurodiversity UM
The MOSSAIC program is a mentoring and support program at the University of Montana for students who may struggle socially due to autism anxiety — or even both.

The MOSSAIC program is a mentoring and support program for students who may struggle socially due to autism anxiety — or even both.

“I think a lot of times people assume that people with autism or people who are neurodiverse can’t do things that typical people can. But they really can,” said Hinds.

“They're people just like us, they are college students just like us. They like the same things we like they want to have friends; they want to be included," Hinds continued.

MOSSAIC hosts weekly get-togethers with student participants and their peers. It provides a safe place to make friends and gain confidence in social situations and how they communicate with the world.

Emma Hinds
“I think a lot of times people assume that people with autism or people who are neurodiverse can’t do things that typical people can. But they really can." - University of Montana senior Emma Hinds

“Most of the time, this is the only time they get to hang out with other people, and it’s important to know that the two hours they spend with us at MOSSAIC is the most social time they have with other people,” Beye told MTN.

The program is also about to launch an online magazine that will have information about neurodivergence, links, videos and more.

“It just has so much information about what neurodiversity is, how we can support students with autism on campus, Tips and tricks, books about autism, movies about autism, everything you can think of,” Hinds explained.

The magazine has a QR code that will be available to scan at locations all over campus and will be a resource for information about a diverse student population these women hope is included for their own unique qualities.

Griz Vision Support the Johnsons QR Code

“Affirming that neurodiversity and not trying to make them fit into the typical society but encouraging society to adapt and fit with them and letting them be them. and not trying to change that,” Hinds said.

“If we can just show that we are making a difference for these individuals, then that would make me the happiest person in the world, honestly,” Beye explained.

The family of the late University of Montana Grizzlies basketball star Anthony Johnson came back to Missoula over the winter to support MOSSAIC and its programs.

Shaunte Johnson helped kick off a fundraiser to help pay for summer camps and other programs.