Site-wide links

Program Info
Program Info

Program Details

The goal of the Spectrum Support Program is to provide coaching and other supports to students, particularly those who identify with an autism spectrum disorder, who are matriculated into undergraduate bachelor’s degree programs at RIT. We are committed to helping students build the connections to RIT that will assist them in achieving academic, social and career success.


Incoming program enrolled students are paired with a trained graduate student Peer Coach who provides weekly transitional support as students navigate their first year at RIT.  Peer Coaches work with students to develop skills and confidence in advocating with professors, negotiating the residential experience, utilizing RIT resources, engaging with extracurricular clubs and events, navigating new and challenging situations, and working toward academic and social goals.

First year students needing additional support can meet weekly with a Masters level Success Coach who will assist them in building strategies related to organizing and prioritizing academic tasks, monitoring academic progress, utilizing academic resources, and planning for academic success.  Success coaches also provide individualized coaching to continuing students (2nd year and beyond) to guide them toward meeting academic, social and career related goals. 

During regular business hours, SSP staff are available to all program enrolled students for drop-in coaching and support.

Cross Campus Collaboration and Referral

SSP staff work with program enrolled students and cross campus partners to facilitate the connection to appropriate resources, make targeted referrals, and provide comprehensive follow-up and support.

Cross campus partners include:  Academic Advising, Residence Life, Disability Services Office, Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services, Academic Support Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, among others. 

Customized Seminar Courses

Unique seminar courses have been created to deliver critical skill development and support for SSP participants, primarily focused on the transition into and out of RIT. 

Sponsored Social Events

Program participants are invited to attend organized events sponsored by the Spectrum Support Program.  Past events include lunch and dinner meet-ups and game nights.   

Pre-Orientation Program- Gearing Up for Success

This three-day program takes place prior to fall New Student Orientation and assists program enrolled students in transitioning to RIT.   Additional information and registration can be found at: Center for Orientation and Transition *Separate registration and fee applies.

** Students wishing to request academic and/or residential accommodations should register with the Disability Services Office and submit an accommodation request along with disability documentation. Questions related to accommodations or documentation requirements should be directed to the Disability Services Office at 585-475-2023.

Program Enrollment


Level 1: For Transitioning Students (first-year Freshman or Transfer)

  • Weekly Coaching
    Cost: $2,450/Academic Year
  • OR

  • Twice Weekly Coaching
    Cost: $3450/Academic Year

Level 2: For Continuing Students

  • Bi-weekly Coaching
    Cost: $2040/Academic Year
  • OR

  • Weekly Coaching
    Cost: $2,950/Academic Year

Program enrollment is completed once annually. Stated costs reflect program enrollment at a consistent level of support for the traditional academic year (September to May).  Annual program fees are billed in two equal installments, 50% of the academic year charge on the fall billing statement and 50% of the academic year charge on the spring billing statement.

Support for summer semester requires a separate enrollment and is charged at ½ the annual enrollment fee.

Program fees are non-refundable. In the case of a voluntary or involuntary leave or withdrawal from RIT, a refunds are made in accordance with Institute policy (

**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 @ 585-475-6936 to inquire about financial assistance.  

Program Enrollment for the 2017-18 Academic Year is closed. Please contact Laurie Ackles, Director, at or 585-475-6936 for information about support options..

Funding Information


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.


Laurie Laurie Ackles, LMSW
Director, Spectrum Support Program

Campus Center, Suite 2720
Phone: 585-475-6936
Fax: 585-475-5832