RIT has a growing number of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), sometimes referred to as Asperger's Syndrome, registered with the Disability Services Office. We value these students as part of our diverse community and acknowledge that some individuals may need additional support in transitioning to college.
RIT's Spectrum Support Program (SSP) is one of the largest formal programs in the nation focused on meeting the unique needs of highly capable college students on the autism spectrum. The Spectrum Support Program provides individualized and small group support to assist students with the initial transition to life at RIT and help ensure continued success through graduation.
Students who would like to request academic and/or residential accommodation due to an autism spectrum disorder should register with the Disability Services Office and submit an accommodation request along with documentation of the disability. Should you have questions directly related to accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office at 585-475-2023.
Transitioning students (first year freshman and transfer students) are paired with a trained SSP Peer Coach to receive consistent 1:1 individualized support and guidance in transitional domains including; advocating with professors, negotiating the residential experience, utilizing RIT resources, engaging with extracurricular clubs and events, navigating challenging situations, and working toward academic and social goals. SSP Peer Coaches are RIT graduate students who receive supervision as well as ongoing training and support from the SSP Case Manager and SSP Director. Continuing students meet monthly with an SSP staff member who assists students with problem-solving, advocacy, use of resources, and continued work toward academic, social and career related goals. SSP staff are also available to program enrolled students for drop-in coaching and support.
Case management services create a systemic, cross-campus web of support that connects SSP staff to other professionals on campus that can support the student throughout their time at RIT. Program participants give a signed consent to allow SSP staff to collaborate with a participant’s “support team” such as parents, academic advisors, residential coordinators, disability services office, co-op program coordinators, and relevant academic support center staff in order to make timely and targeted referrals as well as provide comprehensive follow-up and support.
Unique seminar courses have been created to deliver skill development and support for SSP participants in a small group format. Each zero-credit, semester long seminar course addresses critical skill development in traditionally challenging areas such as college transition, social and executive functioning strategies, and co-op preparation.
Available to SSP program enrolled students in need of additional support to address specific executive functioning deficits such as breaking down assignments, academic planning/prioritizing, monitoring academic progress, utilizing academic resources, time management and organization.
All program participants are invited to attend organized events sponsored by the Spectrum Support Program. Past events include bi-weekly lunch meet-up, board game nights, mall scavenger hunt, RITchies Gameroom and Ritz Sport Zone hangouts.
A three-day program takes place prior to fall New Student Orientation and assists program enrolled students in transitioning to RIT. Separate registration and fee applies.
*Please note: Students who would like to request academic and/or residential accommodations due to an autism spectrum disorder should register with the Disability Services Office and submit an accommodation request along with disability documentation. Should you have questions directly related to accommodations or documentation required, please contact the Disability Services Office at 585-475-2023.
Level 1: For Transitioning Students Cost: $2,400/Academic Year
Level 2: For Continuing Students Cost: $2,000/Academic Year
1:1 Executive Functioning Support (1 hour/week) Cost: $800/Academic Year
Portions of the Spectrum Support Program have been made possible through grants and other funding.
The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation For Autism, Inc.: Funding from The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc. supported the expansion of the 2008/2009 Spectrum Support Pilot Program. Specifically, grant monies were directed toward the development of new curriculum for training of peer coaches, development of the initial SSP site, and program evaluation for the first two years of the program.
National Science Foundation: Portions of the Spectrum Support Program (SSP) have been made possible through a two year National Science Foundation enrichment grant for RIT undergraduate students with autism spectrum disorder enrolled in STEM degree programs. Two year grant funding supported case management and peer coaching services, faculty/staff training and program evaluation efforts for the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 academic years.
If you need further assistance, you can contact Laurie Ackles by phone or email. Additionally, Student and Parent Intake Questionnaires can be submitted electronically on behalf of accepted students.