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 support to students on the Spectrum to assist them with the initial transition to life at RIT and help ensure continued success through graduation.
In order to be eligible for the program, students must register with the Disability Services Office and provide documentation of Autism Spectrum Disorder (NVLD, PDD, Aspergers, Autism). Once registered, students with ASD will be invited to participate in the program.
As increasing numbers of students with autism spectrum disorders attend RIT and seek support, we have found it necessary to review the structure and costs associated with providing the comprehensive supports available through the Spectrum Support program. It is anticipated that a new program model will emerge for the 2013/14 academic year, which will provide a more sustainable means by which RIT can continue to provide enrollment sensitive, high quality support to students on the autism spectrum who benefit from specialized supports.
The details of a newly instituted program participation fee are currently under review by university and program officials. We remain confident that the Spectrum Support Program at RIT will continue to be one of the most comprehensive and cost effective programs in the nation focused on supporting highly capable college students on the autism spectrum. In addition, we are eager to improve the scope of services offered to program participants, particularly through some newly planned program provisions.
A series of specialized and customized seminars and lab sessions are currently being developed which are intended to increase student success in a variety of important domains. These program components will be available to both incoming and continuing SSP students and target skill development and support in the areas of executive functioning, academic strategies, social thinking and job search readiness.
More specific information related to program structure and fees for the 2013-2014 school year will be available in early May.
The Spectrum Support Program uses RIT graduate students as SSP Peer Coaches. These student are trained in supporting students on the Spectrum and receive ongoing training and support from the SSP Project Director.
Peer coaches are an integral part of the Spectrum Support Program, offering support to program participants in the form of 1:1 meetings and assisting in all aspects of student life. Peer Coaches will:
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.