How many students do you serve through the Spectrum Support Program?

SSP served 12 students during the “pilot” year (08-09).  Since then, the program has grown significantly.  SSP served 85 students in Academic Year 2018-19.     

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 often struggle with navigating the co-op and job search process,  

What is the application and enrollment process Spectrum Support Program participation?

Application for admittance to RIT and application to Spectrum Support Program are seperate and distinct processes.  Admittance to RIT does not guarentee a student will be eligible for enrollment in the SSP.  Incoming students interested in working with the Spectrum Support Program (SSP) must: 

1) Choose a major and Apply to RIT.    2) Submit a "SSP Enrollment Request Form"    3) Submit all required application materials.   4) SSP Application materials will be reviewed and enrollment decisions will be communicated to students.  Eligibility for program enrollment will be based on space and program fit.   5) Students accepted into SSP must indicate their intent to attend RIT and formally accept SSP enrollment.   MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DEADLINES CAN BE FOUND HERE

*Due to the limited space in the program, some eligible students may not be offered enrollment in the SSP.  Students who have been offered enrollment but do not formally accept SSP enrollment by May 1st will forfeit their spot in the program to a student on the waitlist.  


As a current SSP enrolled student, how do I indicate my desire to continue receiving support from the program?

Once a student has applied to SSP and been offered enrollment in the program, their annual Request for Enrollment will be considered without full SSP re-application.  Current SSP enrolled students should submit a Request for Enrollment by May 1st.  This can be completed online here .   A formal re-application to SSP is only required in cases where a student is required to re-apply to RIT, such as after a suspension or extended leave of absence.  

Current SSP enrolled students who submit the Request for Enrollment after May 1st will be placed on a waitlist for services.  

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

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 co-op and career preparation.

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?

The Spectrum Support Program utilizes both trained graduate students, from RIT or local colleges who have  both skills and interest in working with people with disabilities, and professionals with background and experience in Education, Counseling, Social Work, or related areas. 

All coaches receive comprehensive training in working with college students on the autism spectrum and receive close supervision and support from the SSP Director and Assistant Director.  

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, direct communication between program staff and parents/guardians is limited.  We encourage students to keep the lines of communication open with their parents/guardians and encourage parents to include their student on any communication they feel is important to share with program staff. 

SSP provides students with a mid-semester (if applicable) and end of semester program progress update.  Students are encouraged to maintain open communcation with their home support network by sharing and discussing program generated progress reports with them.  In addition, we encourage students to work with their home and campus support teams to discuss plans for improvement. 

In accordance with our Attendance Policy, SSP staff may be in contact with parents/guardians if a student has missed consecutive coaching meetings or if they are facing the possibility of discontinuation of services due to poor attendance.  SSP staff may be in contact with parents/guardians if there are concerns about a student’s safety and well-being.   

Does SSP communicate with other on-campus departments or other service providers in support of students?

All SSP enrolled students are assigned to an SSP staff member who will facilitate communication, as appropriate in order to support student success, with RIT faculty/staff who have a legitimate educational interest in their success at RIT, including, but not limited to: Disability Services Office, RIT 365 Instructor, Residence Coordinator, Academic Advisor, Academic Success Center Staff, Counseling and Psychological Services Staff, Career Services Coordinator.

In keeping with our program mission and in an effort to promote student autonomy, SSP staff do not communicate directly with outside service providers. 

Does the SSP have access to a student’s grades?

SSP does not have access to a student’s grades throughout the semester. We rely heavily on students’ self-report to assist students 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.

Do you have an ASD support group on campus?

SSP doesn't offer a “support group” in the traditional sense but does offer optional social events for students to come together in a social atmosphere.  SSP sponsored social events provide students with the opportunity to build social confidence and connection with program enrolled peers with support from SSP staff and coaches.    

Counseling and Psychological Services does offer group counseling, which provides the unique opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, and encouragement from other students in a safe environment.  Counseling groups vary from semester to semester but often include groups for social anxiety, interpersonal/relationship support, and stress management.