How many students do you serve through the Spectrum Support Program? How many new participants enter your program each year?

Our “pilot” year (08-09) we primarily served 1st year students, totaling 10 students.  Since then the program has grown significantly, serving more students each year.  For AY 2016-2017 we served about 70 formally enrolled students.  Each year we anticipate about 25-30 incoming students.

What have been the biggest challenges for your student participants?

First year students often 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 often with navigating the job search process, identifying appropriate co-op placements and being prepared for interviewing.

What is the application process Spectrum Support Program participation?

Students must meet all the academic requirements of admittance to RIT. Once they are accepted to the university, it is recommended that students register as a student with a disability through the Disability Services Office, provide that department with proper documentation of ASD, and then enroll in SSP. Students wishing to receive academic or living accommodations must request those accommodations through the Disability Services Office.

More information on the process for registering with the Disability Services Office, accommodations, and disability documentation can be found on their website.

How do I enroll in the Spectrum Support Program (SSP)?

Enrollment can be completed on the SSP website.  Enrollment is required before the start of fall term for the upcoming academic year. The student’s enrollment level will be consistent for the fall and spring term, unless there is a formal request to adjust the level of support. Please note that Level 1 support is available to first year transitioning and first year transfer students only.

How am I billed for enrollment in the SSP?

Fees for enrolling in SSP are billed through Student Financial Services and added to the student account. Enrollment is for the full academic year, at a consistent level of support, but billed in two installments at the beginning of the fall and spring academic terms.

Is financial aid available to help with the cost of enrollment in SSP?

SSP fees are charged directly to the student account, similar to other ancillary fees, and may be covered by anticipated credits (loans, grants, scholarships).

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies often provide financial support for Spectrum Support Program enrollment fees. Students who are eligible, or believe they may be eligible, for VR support should contact their local VR agency to inquire. Students who are not eligible for VR support and have financial concerns that would preclude program enrollment, should contact Director, Laurie Ackles at 585-475-6936 to inquire about possible financial assistance.

For additional information:

Who are SSP Coaches?

SSP Peer Coaches are RIT Graduate and Upper-level Undergraduate students primarily within the Psychology and School Psychology Departments who work with first year and transfer SSP students to support their transition to life at RIT both socially and academically. Peer Coaches receive comprehensive training, supervision and support from the SSP Director.

SSP Success Coaches are master’s level professionals with background and experience in areas related to counseling, social work and education. They receive specialized training in working with students with ASD.

I am a parent/guardian. How much contact can I expect from the SSP staff?

SSP’s primary role is as a link between the student and the university. Therefore, we encourage students to keep the lines of communication open with their parents/guardians. Students are asked to sign a release, which allows SSP staff to respond to general inquiries from parents about their participation in services and to provide a report of progress at the end of each semester. SSP staff may be in contact with parents/guardians if a student has missed consecutive coaching meetings or there are concerns about a student’s safety and well-being.

I am parent/guardian. Does the SSP have access to my student’s grades?

SSP does not have access to student’s grades throughout the semester. We rely heavily on students’ self-report to assist them in monitoring their academic progress. Students are encouraged and supported in using MyCourses and reaching out to professors when they are unsure of their status in a class.

SSP staff are considered tertiary support advisors and therefore are notified of any “Early Alerts” that students might receive from course instructors (i.e. red flags related to attendance, low assignment scores, participation, and low quiz/test grades). SSP coaches work with the student to access all available campus resources (i.e. academic advisor, instructor, tutoring etc.) to resolve academic issues as they become evident.

What kind of support can a student expect from the SSP?

Weekly/Monthly Coaching meetings are intended to help students plan for success, determine areas of concern and problem solve through issues as they arise. Additionally, all students are assigned an SSP staff person to support them in connecting with the campus departments charged with providing support to the student, including: academic advisors, residence life staff, counseling center, academic support center, etc. All students have access to drop-in SSP coaching support during regular business hours and SSP offers specialized small group seminars, which provide additional practice and support with social competence, executive functioning skills, and co-op and career preparation.

Do you have an ASD support group on campus?

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 Seminars, limited to students in the SSP, give students an opportunity to learn alongside others with shared experiences.

Do you have a special orientation for incoming students?

Yes. “Gearing up for Success” is a 3-day pre-orientation program offered to incoming freshmen and transfer students with ASD.