Who We Are
Special Friends is a social service club of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College. Special Friends is committed to fostering unique friendships between undergraduates and local children and families affected by autism.

Students are individually matched with local children, with the goal of developing an ongoing relationship. Special Friends pairs are expected to spend one-on-one time together on about a weekly basis.

What We Do

Carefully match undergraduate volunteers and local children and families

Host social events for Special Friends students and families (e.g. Meet and Greet, Halloween Party, Easter Egg Hunt)

Host an annual autism conference for the community on Notre Dame’s campus

Provide monthly childcare services at South Bend’s LOGAN Center during Parent Nights  

Why Join Special Friends?

Participating in Special Friends can be a great experience for students, children, and families!

The ND and SMC students who are selected to participate in Special Friends have a heart for children and their families. Many children who participate in Special Friends come to see their Friend as a sort of “older sibling” or mentor.

Friends can meet on or off-campus (e.g. at the child’s home), and can do anything from working on homework together, to playing games, to going bowling, or simply “hanging out”. Besides building an incredible friendship, these can also be great opportunities for your child to develop their socialization and communication skills.

The time commitment is about ~2 hours/week, though Friends may meet for as few as 1 or as many as 4 hours. We try to match Friends based on transportation needs, and each child’s special needs and interests.

The Club’s social events, LOGAN Parent Nights, and annual conference are also great opportunities for you to meet other local families affected by autism.  

How To Get Involved?

Please complete this application! Officers will be completing the pairing process on Saturday, September 12th.