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Miami University’s regional campuses introduce Fusion for fall 2021

Miami University’s Student Disability Services (SDS) is implementing a new program for students with learning disabilities and neurological disorders, called Fusion, at the regional campuses beginning fall 2021.

Fusion is an intensive one-on-one program that will provide additional services to students that SDS can’t supply, such as time management and organization resources.

Leslie Omaites, coordinator of SDS at Miami University Middletown, and Karen Yates, coordinator of SDS at Hamilton, have been developing Fusion for seven years. Now, they are excited to see what students accomplish with the resources they need.

“We noticed that a lot of students who are college-capable are not succeeding, and these are students with ADHD, on the autism spectrum, etc.,” Yates said. “But we can’t always devote the time needed to these specific students.”

Fusion will operate by using a mentor who specializes in neurological disorders. The academic advisor will split their time between both Hamilton and Middletown, and will sit down with students twice a week to establish an individualized plan to help them succeed. The advisor will also teach a UNV 101 course that dives deeper into topics which might be harder for students with learning disabilities to grasp.

To apply for Fusion, students need to qualify for SDS resources and provide documentation of a neurological disorder. Applications are still open through the Regionals’ Student-Life website. 

The program is currently accepting about 20 students for its first year. Because it is a pilot program and SDS in Oxford provides other specific accommodations for students’ needs such as extended time on tests, note taking services and course substitutions, the Oxford campus will not be implementing the program in the fall.

While Yates is unsure if the Oxford campus will employ the program in the future, she hopes its success will encourage SDS in Oxford to consider it’s potential. 

According to Yates, Fusion is a fee-based program, but a price is still being determined. The program is only offered for first-year and transfer students right now, but SDS plans to open the program to more students as it continues to grow.

Yates believes Fusion will help set Miami apart from other schools, specifically for students with learning disabilities.

“There are a lot of universities that are not providing [these services], and there are a lot of universities providing it but at a much higher cost,” Yates said. 

Yates compares the program to other ADHD coaches that can cost up to $500 per month but assures that Fusion will only be a fraction of that. 

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Though a final cost has yet to be confirmed for Miami, Northeastern University’s Learning Disabilities Program costs $2,900 per semester, and comparably, Auburn University’s SKILL Program costs $1,200 per semester. 

Even though the program will only be offered at Middletown and Hamilton, Yates said 20% of students across the three campuses utilize SDS. 

Allie Pakulski, a first-year pre-communication design major at Miami’s Oxford campus, has been diagnosed with ADHD. She received testing accommodations in high school and registered with SDS before she started at Miami. She receives similar testing accommodations and finds them to be effective. 

She said she would like to see Fusion on the Oxford campus, but she understands the size may make it harder to implement individualized sessions. 

“I feel like it would be a really good resource on campus, but I understand the different atmospheres between the campuses, so I'm kind of torn,” Pakulski said.

Nate Hall, a first-year political science and Eastern European studies double major at the Oxford campus, was recently diagnosed with ADHD. While the accommodations from the Oxford campus helped, he found himself struggling his first semester with deadlines.

“I would definitely take advantage of Fusion,” Hall said. “I was reading it over, and I know that all the accommodations would help me personally."

Hall currently meets one-on-one with his professors almost every week, but he said it would be more beneficial to meet with just one person who specializes in neurological disorders.

“I’m not frustrated it’s not offered at Oxford, but it seems very helpful,” Hall said.

Though it’s uncertain whether the Oxford campus will ever enlist the Fusion program, Yates said she is excited to see where the program goes.

“I would love to get beyond Student Disability Services for students who may not qualify for SDS,” Yates said, “but still may need that extra support.”