The Network: A Monthly Social Networking Program for neurodiverse adolescents and young adults.

Group photo of "The Network" showing young men and women sitting around a table playing cards. The Network is a monthly social networking program for high functioning adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum aged between 16-30 years. The goal is to provide those with ASD an opportunity to meet others and hopefully make connections.

Overview

The Network is a social networking program for neurodiverse adolescents and young adults aged between 16-30 years. The goal is to provide an opportunity to meet others and hopefully make connections. We meet at the beginning of the month in-person and in the middle of the month online and you can choose which meetings to come to.

When and Where

The Network takes place once a month in person (usually the first Wednesday of the month) from 6-7:30 p.m. Sometimes we meet at the UMass Lowell south campus (in Coburn Hall on south campus) and sometimes we hang out somewhere else (e.g. pizza, bowling, etc.). We also meet once a month (usually the third Wednesday of the month) from 6-7:30 p.m. online on a Discord server. During our online meetings we chat and play Jackbox and other games. You will receive a schedule of Network meeting events for the year so you will know what is coming up.

There is a $75 annual fee to participate in The Network. This fee also covers the parent group which meets at the same time and place for our in-person meetings. Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the fee. Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D. is the Program Director and Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

  • *Subject to change.

    Meetings are typically 6-7:30 p.m.

    Meetings at UMass Lowell are typically on south campus. Free parking is available behind Coburn Hall in the Coburn Lot on Wilder Street. When we are in Coburn Hall we usually meet in rooms G10 (group members) and G20 (parents / caregivers).

    Get instructions for downloading and using Discord.

    2022 Schedule

    • Wednesday, January 5: New Years Pot Luck Party in Coburn Hall (UMass Lowell)
      We will hang out and play games. Please bring a snack / drink to share.

    • Wednesday, January 19: Discord

    • Wednesday, February 2: TBD

    • Wednesday, February 16: Discord

    • Wednesday, March 2: Pizza and Movie Night in Coburn Hall (UMass Lowell)

    • Wednesday, March 16: Discord

    • Wednesday, April 6: No meeting, Ashleigh out of town

    • Wednesday, April 20: Discord

    • Wednesday, May 4: No meeting, Ashleigh out of town

    • Wednesday, May 18: Discord

    • Wednesday, June 1: Escapology Escape Room, 345 Main St, Tewksbury, MA 01876.

    • Wednesday, June 15: Discord

    • Wednesday, July 6: Picnic at UMass Lowell (on the lawn opposite Coburn Hall).
      Please bring a snack / drink to share, a blanket to sit on, and lawn games.

    • Wednesday, July 20: Discord

    • Wednesday, August 3: TBD

    • Wednesday, August 17: Discord

    • Wednesday, September 7: Jay Gees Ice-cream and Fun Center in Methuen: 602 Lowell Street, Methuen, MA 01844.
      We will meet at the ice-cream stand and then parents / caregivers can stay there and chat, and group members can do other activities if they want to such as batting cages, go karts, mini golf or the (small) arcade.

    • Wednesday, September 21: Discord

    • Wednesday, October 5: Halloween Party and Potluck Coburn Hall.

    • Wednesday, October 19: Discord

    • Wednesday, November 2: 6-7:30 p.m.: Pizza and games night at UMass Lowell (room G10 in Coburn Hall for group members and G20 for parents / caregivers). Bring your favorite board game and snacks / treats / drinks to share. We will supply pizza and drinks for group members and parents / guardians.

    • Wednesday, November 16: Discord
      First week of December (day and time TBD): UMass Lowell Mean's ice-hockey game at Tsongas Center in Lowell.

    • Wednesday, December 21: 6-7:30 p.m.: Discord

    Instructions for Discord

    If you already have a Discord login, you may join the server by clicking on The Network (UMass Lowell) Discord invitation link.

    If you do not have a Discord account, you can follow the steps found on Discord's Getting Started webpage to create an account.

    Having the app downloaded is encouraged, as you will not be able to see shared screens if you are only on the online platform.

    Once you have your account created, you can click on the above server invitation link and join us!

    More information about creating accounts and joining servers for your reference can be found on Discord's How to Set Up Your Discord Account webpage.

    If you have any questions or need any help with Discord, please do not hesitate to email Danielle: DanielleMcL15@gmail.com.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the main aim of The Network program?

    To provide a comfortable environment for group members to meet and make connections with one another both online and in-person. Ideally, people in the group will arrange to meet up outside of The Network and form lasting and rewarding friendships. Another goal is TO HAVE FUN!!

    Who is eligible for The Network?

    The Network is for neurodiverse adolescents and young adults who are aged between 16 and 30 years, and their parents / caregivers.

    Should I attend The Network every month?

    It is best to attend The Network as often as possible in order to increase your likelihood of making friends with others in the group. Sometimes you may find a particular meeting more enjoyable than others depending on what activities you like doing.

    How much does it cost to participate in The Network?

    There is an annual fee of $75 to be a member of The Network. This fee also covers the parent group (scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the fee).

    Also, sometimes for the in-person meetings, when we are off campus you may need to bring some money with you. If we go out to eat or to some other event, then you will need money for that and perhaps some spending money too.

    Do parents / caregivers attend The Network meetings?

    Parents / caregivers have their own separate parent group which takes place at the same time as the group members’ meetings. For the in-person meetings, parents / caregivers typically meet together as a group somewhere close to the group members such as in a room next door if we are on-campus. Parents/caregivers do not meet during the online meetings. The $75 fee also covers the parent group.

    Who runs The Network program?

    Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D. is the Program Director and a Psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Ashleigh has spent many years working with autistic adolescents and young adults, particularly in offering various different programs.

    In addition, UMass Lowell undergraduate and graduate students are involved in The Network. These students provide excellent role models for those in the program. Many of the students intend to move into professional positions working with neurodiverse individuals when they graduate. Therefore, The Network provides an extremely important opportunity for them to gain experience and the skills they will need to be effective and successful professionals. Students participate for course credit, or as volunteers.

    Please see the Volunteer Opportunities tab on this page for more information.

    What is the next step for joining The Network?

    You can complete The Network Program Enrollment Form in Google Forms. Ashleigh will then review the enrollment and contact you with further details.

    Please contact Ashleigh by email at Ashleigh_Hillier@uml.edu with any questions.

  • Contact

    ContactAshleigh Hillier, Ph.D.
    Professor
    Department of Psychology
    University of Massachusetts Lowell
    850 Broadway, Suite 300
    Lowell, MA 01854-3059
    Phone: 978-934-2930
    Email: ashleigh_hillier@uml.edu

    Enrollment Forms

    You can complete The Network Program Enrollment Form. Ashleigh will then review the enrollment and contact you with further details.

    Please contact Ashleigh by email at Ashleigh_Hillier@uml.edu with any questions.

  • Students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who are interested in getting involved in the Network program should contact Ashleigh Hillier by email at: ashleigh_hillier@uml.edu.