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Lesley University Program Helps Neurodiverse Adults Find Silver Lining In Pandemic

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) -- Threshold is a program at Lesley University that helps adults living with autism and other disabilities develop the skills to live and work independently. "Once they graduate, they have a robust group of alumni that socialize regularly," explained Krista Digregorio, the director of alumni and employment services for the Threshold program.

When the pandemic hit, that connection was lost until the school created a series of social events on Zoom.

"I am really grateful. It made life a lot easier to be able to cope with what was going on," explained Threshold recent grad Kristina Gillis.

Gillis, who works in Cambridge, told WBZ-TV the Zoom events helped her maintain friendships and even meet new alumni from out of state.

"I got to see people that I wouldn't normally be seeing in Massachusetts because there were people from Maine and all around," she said.

"At the high point, when everyone was quarantining, we had 25-30 Zooms a week from fitness, yoga, dance, and a book club," Digregorio said. "They embraced it and each other."

Some of the alumni even traveled to meet up in person.

Graduates of the Threshold Program meet up in person (Courtesy Photo)

"I had a girl's weekend in Maine two weekends ago and it was wonderful," said Christine Wiseman of Arlington.

Other members have even started their own groups outside the alumni organization.

"Kristina loves old movies, so she and Adam have their own movie group," Digregorio said. "These are skills they had not previously had, or they had not trusted themselves to run something like that and take it on, so it's been so much fun to watch."

The alumni group hopes to get back to their in-person social events, but the alumni center plans to continue the Zoom groups to help keep out-of-state members connected.

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