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

SSP served 12 students during the “pilot” year (08-09).  Since then the program has grown significantly, serving more students each year.  SSP serves an average of 30 new freshman each fall and an average of 50 returning 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 often struggle with navigating the co-op and job search process,  

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 housing adjustments 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 uses both graduate students and professional coaches.  Graduate student coaches work primarily with first-year freshman or upperclass students enrolled in once-weekly or twice-monthly coaching supports.  Coaches are enrolled in graduate degree programs in school psychology, counseling, social work or higher education.  First year freshman who enroll for twice-weekly coaching  are assigned to a coach with a master's degree and a background in areas related to counseling, social work and education.

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, 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.

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 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?

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.

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.