SOCIAL Gators (Student Opportunities for Career, Independent, and Academic Life) is a program for UF degree-seeking students who want to enhance their skills for a more enriching college experience. This program is designed for students on the autism spectrum and other students interested in improving their social communication skills.

A collaborative effort between the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) and the Disability Resource Center (DRC), SOCIAL Gators focuses on developing skills in social interaction, independence, career readiness, and academics through: peer mentoring, weekly group meetings, structured dialogue, access to resources, and social connections.

SOCIAL Gators Spring 2021 Meetings

If you are interested in joining SOCIAL Gators, please complete the registration form. We accept new students throughout the year and have a rolling-registration. Once you connect with our office, Lisa Diekow will email you the zoom links to the meetings outlined below:

Spring 2021 meetings:

  • Wednesdays 2:00pm – 3:00pm

Please note: SOCIAL Gators are welcome to go to one meeting, or both per week, depending on their preference. For more information about SOCIAL Gators please contact Lisa Diekow at DRCSOCIALGators@ufsa.ufl.edu.

A group of social Gators students at the art gallery in the Reitz

About SOCIAL Gators

Degree-seeking students with autism spectrum disorders are paired with peer mentors in an effort to increase engagement in university life. The peer-mentors provide support in navigating social aspects of university life such as participating in campus life events, interacting with instructors, classmates, and roommates, and networking with research mentors and potential employers. Mentors and student participants meet monthly to set goals and reflect on progress.

Weekly Group Meetings

Weekly curriculum is based on topics participants have expressed an interest in which has historically included but is not limited to health and wellness, social communication, stress management, executive functioning, career seeking, self-advocacy, and more. Resources are highlighted and provided at each meeting and participants set S.M.A.R.T. goals for themselves which are reviewed several times a semester.

Email SOCIAL Gators for more information at: DRCSOCIALGators@ufsa.ufl.edu.

Students who are interested in participating in SOCIAL Gators should click here for the application. Students are admitted into SOCIAL Gators on an ongoing basis. Admission to SOCIAL Gators does not guarantee admission into the University of Florida. The applications to the University and to SOCIAL Gators are separate processes.

Applications to SOCIAL Gators will be considered complete and accepted only if the following are included:

  • Completed Application form
  • Documentation of an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis or related disability
  • Registration with the Disability Resource Center (DRC)
  • Registration with Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (CARD)
If you have any questions regarding SOCIAL Gators, please contact the Disability Resource Center at: 352-392-8565.



The role of SOCIAL Gators at UF is to enhance the college experience for students with autism spectrum disorder.
SOCIAL Gators are comprised of students, mentors, and professionals who are interested in supporting students on the autism spectrum as well as those with related disabilities.
To register for the program, complete the online application form. A representative from SOCIAL Gators will notify you within one week of your completed application submission. Applications are accepted for both Fall and Spring semesters, and should be submitted at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester you plan to join.
An autism diagnosis is not required at the time of applying to the program, however, you do need to identify as being on the autism spectrum or have an autism-related disability.
SOCIAL Gators provides mentoring, weekly group meetings, and online learning modules. The weekly meetings are designed to address issues such as health and wellness, social communication, stress management, executive functioning, career seeking, self-advocacy, and more. Students also meet with a peer mentor who provides support in navigating social aspects of university life. You can find out more information under the ‘Program Components’ tab above.
There is no charge for program services at this time.
You can make an appointment with one of the SOCIAL Gators staff by emailing SOCIALGators@ufsa.ufl.edu or by calling the Disability Resource Center at 352-392-8565.
Yes! SOCIAL Gators offers an online component so that online students can access materials and participate in online discussions and mentorship opportunities. Online students can also participate in the weekly group meetings virtually via Zoom.