Our “pilot” year (08-09) we primarily served 1st year students, totaling 10 students. During AY 2009/10 we served 22 students and in 2010-2011 we served a total of 41 students through the Spectrum Support Program, including 22 incoming first year students. Each year we see an increase in the number of students with ASD entering college and needing support.
Students must meet all the academic requirements of admittance to RIT. Once they are accepted to the University, they register as a student with the disability through the office for Disability Services and provide documentation of ASD. Referral to the Spectrum Support Program is then facilitated through the DSO office.
First year students struggle with accessing campus resources, time management and organization, managing stress/anxiety, self advocacy, and connecting with others- professors and peers. Upper class students struggle most with navigating the job search process, identifying appropriate co-op placements and being prepared for interviewing.
All students are provided with case management services, which allows SSP program staff to collaborate with other campus departments providing support to the student (academic advisor, residence life, counseling center, academic support center, parents). Most first year students also work with a peer coach, meeting regularly to plan for success, determine where the rough spots are and problem solve through issues as they arise. Upper class students are invited to take part in the SSP Success Seminar focused on building the skills needed for career success.
We don’t have a “support group” in the traditional sense but we offer social events for students to come together, with peer coaches, in a social atmosphere. Our SSP Success Seminar and FYE for SSP, limited to students in the Spectrum Support Program, gives students an opportunity to learn alongside others with shared experiences.
Our students have had success applying and interviewing with the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), Entry Point and other programs tailored to students with disabilities. The SSP Success Seminar helps students be prepared to take advantage of these opportunities.
"Gearing Up for Success" is a 3 day pre-orientation program offered to incoming freshman with ASD. It takes place 3 days prior to RIT's First Year Orientation program. The program was created to offer these students the opportunity to experience a smoother transition, help them build the skills needed for success at RIT, and prepare them to participate with their peers in the freshman orientation program. The individual and small-group sessions include campus tours, direct support in the use of campus resources, skill instruction, social outings, and review of college-level independent living skills.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. HRD-0928340. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.