Panther Links centers on mentoring students with Autism. According to Autism Society of America, Autism is defined as a developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result is a neurological disorder that affects functioning in the brain. Autism interferes with the normal development of the brain in the areas of reasoning, social interactions and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have deficiencies in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction, and leisure and play activities. The disorder makes it hard for them to communicate with others and relate to the outside world.In 2011-2012 middle school students were invited to to become "LINKS" or mentors for students with Autism at Pickford Elementary. As a Panther Link, middle school students would have 30 minutes, once a week, in their mentee's classroom, helping the student not only academically, but socially as well. They served not only as an academic guide but as a friend. This led to many successes within the general education classroom for the students with Autism.In 2012-2013 the program was expanded to include not only students with Autism, but other students who may benefit from having an older student as a mentor. The program has continued to be a fantastic success!Panther links had a pizza party on March 6 to celebrate their many successes!