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Overview of the myLIFE Program

The mission of the Emory Autism Center (EAC) myLIFE program is to practice and shape the social skills of adults on the autism spectrum. This is done in a caring and respectful environment composed of other adults with ASD, as well as Emory student volunteers. Sometimes, adults with ASD struggle with social engagement, so as a volunteer with the myLIFE program, it is important to ensure that everyone is actively participating in the activities.

My Initial Involvement with the myLIFE Program

I began volunteering with the myLIFE program in Fall 2019. At the time, I was enrolled in a Neurodiversity course (highly recommended!) taught by Dr. Catherine Rice, who is the director of the EAC, and she mentioned this opportunity. I started my journey by joining a group that played different games, both inside and outside, and cooked a new snack every week. The group consisted of six adults with autism, ranging from about 20 to 26 years old, and was led by members of Volunteer Emory. All the games were planned so that they involved teamwork and/or social engagement. The recipes often consisted of some healthy element combined in a fun and delicious way to encourage a balanced diet. The time that I spent with the group was so enjoyable that I wanted to lead my own group the following semester.

Comida con Amigos: Leading a myLIFE Group

In my opinion, learning languages is a great skill that not only exercises the brain, improving attentional and task-switching abilities, but that also increases cultural awareness. Based on my own experiences, I strongly believe that learning a second language can be the gateway to gaining cultural interest and appreciation.

In Spring 2020, I started a myLIFE group with five adults on the spectrum that focused on learning about the cultures of different Spanish-speaking countries. In discussing other cultures and learning some key Spanish language words, my hope was to increase their cultural and foreign language interest.


Each week, we discussed a different Spanish-speaking country. The group members would start by practicing introductions in Spanish. Then, I would talk about cultural aspects of the country and integrate activities into the discussion. After, we cooked a typical dish of the country, while traditional music played in the background. Many of the group members did not have any prior exposure to the Spanish language, nor did they have much background on the different cultures. This made teaching them even more exciting.

Several of the members were slightly hesitant to try new foods, but once they did, they often ended up enjoying it.


Volunteering with the myLIFE program has been such an incredible experience. Perhaps labeling it as “volunteering” makes it sound like work, but my experience with the group has been so much fun. I have been provided with the opportunity to meet many great individuals, so I am very glad that I decided to join the program.

If you are interested in finding out more information about the myLIFE program, visit the link below:

By Alyssa Forsyth 

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