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Transition and Support Program

About the Program
Attending college is a significant, life-changing event, especially for young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Southern is introducing its Transition and Support Program “TSP” to meet the unique needs of the growing population of university students diagnosed with ASD. According to estimates, one in 68 high school graduates is diagnosed with ASD. However, only 15 percent of those graduates attend college, and of those, only one in five students actually graduate. Southern acknowledges that some students with ASD may need additional support in transitioning to university life. Southern values these students as part of our diverse community. The TSP program will assist ASD students to learn to identify and access the community and support services of the university within a caring and loving Christian community. 

The fee-based Transition and Support Program is designed for students who exhibit superior intellectual ability but face challenges in executive functioning and social interactions, however, students with other forms of learning disabilities or ADHD may also find this program beneficial.  This program is a campus-wide collaborative endeavor with representatives from various administrative departments.

TSP is intended to work in conjunction with SOAR, a Disability Support Services club already in existence. SOAR’s purpose is to promote awareness and inclusion for all students and to transform the perception and expand understandings of the challenges individuals with disabilities face. The club seeks to create a climate free of barriers and discrimination, as well to empower people with disabilities, recognizing that all students are part of the same community and have something valuable to contribute.  The TSP staff helps students understand the complex and confusing world of social interaction. Support is individually tailored to match each student’s unique profile, specifically focusing on improving social engagements as well as abilities and not disabilities.

 TSP is not just for freshmen students but is also available to students already attending or transferring into Southern. This program is not designed for students dealing with major psychiatric disorders or a history of violence, nor is the program for students requiring constant individual aid, as they cannot be served adequately by this program.

TSP Staff work with students to ensure they are provided with:
  • Weekly individualized (to be modified as needed dependent on classes and grades) learning of study strategies;
  • Weekly individual counseling;
  • Weekly group therapy session to develop methods to enhance the ability to cope with social relationships;
  • Weekly optional meal gathering to encourage socialization;
  • Priority access to the on-campus sensory room, a safe place to relax*;
  • A liaison to faculty and/or academic advisers.
Students are assigned a TSP Academic Coach to provide assistance with:
  • Weekly hour (to be modified as needed) to help develop strategies to manage changing schedules as well as mastering time management and organizational skills;
  • Scheduled content tutoring, up to five days a week;
  • Developing individualized coping strategies when sensory stimuli that interfere with the ability to learn;
  • Course registration;
  • Making course schedule changes;
  • Understanding course material and meeting due dates of classroom assignments;
[Academic Coaches may also attend a class with a student as needed.]

Students living on campus are paired with a TSP Dorm Mentor, who can help them with:
  • Managing dorm life;
  • Developing skills necessary to maintain clean living quarters;
  • Ensuring laundry is completed;
  • Maintaining personal hygiene
Students are paired with a TSP Social Mentor, who will help with:
  • Participating in any of the numerous clubs, sporting and cultural opportunities on campus;
  • Learning classroom etiquette;
  • Seeking and securing on-campus employment to work between 5 and 15 hours a week, to be modified as needed by their schedules and grades;
  • Providing a personalized campus tour focused on the student’s upcoming scheduled semester;
  • Becoming their resource contact person to help them settle in and become comfortably acquainted with university life.
[Weekly events will be held to foster opportunities for friendships, active involvement on campus, and socializing.]

The TSP Staff:
Mentors and Coaches may consist of undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of majors but all services are supervised by master/graduate level students currently enrolled in the School of Education and Psychology or the School of Social Work programs. These master’s level students work under the supervision of licensed psychologists and the university’s doctoral-level faculty. Students will work with a new set of providers each alternating year of the program. This arrangement provides students with the opportunity to work with a variety of individuals to work together toward a common goal.

Parental Involvement:
With student approval, parents receive an update on student’s adjustment on a weekly or monthly basis or as requested or needed.

The cost of the program is $2,500 per semester. This fee ensures that the necessary materials and program team members are available. This fee is in addition to Southern’s tuition and housing fees. At the end of the student's second semester in the TSP club, a fee reduction may be available for those with financial limitations.

To Apply:
Students interested in applying for this program must be capable of doing university-level work and must first meet the minimum requirements for admission and be accepted to Southern Adventist University. Because residential life provides the opportunity to learn social interaction, independent living and time management, students are strongly encouraged to live in the dorm.

Application to Transition and Support Program

Intake Questionnaire

We welcome your registration in the TSP program. After you have received notification of your acceptance from Southern, please contact TSP to request an intake packet.  You will need to complete and return the following:
  • Complete the program’s application and Intake Questionnaire;
  • Include letter of acceptance to Southern Adventist University;
  • Documentation stating applicant’s primary and any co-occurring diagnoses;
  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers, guidance counselors or non-related individuals;
  • Contact TSP to schedule an onsite interview with the Program Director.
Because space in the program is limited, students are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible. Students may elect to join the program at any time however, please note that fees are not pro-rated.
Students should also be sure to register with the Disability Support Services Offices if they would like to request any of the following:
  • An academic accommodation, such as a reduced course load;
  • A single-room option that supports the opportunity to decompress and regulate (based on availability);
  • Early move-in date that allows for a calmer transition from the home to residence hall life.
We look forward to welcoming you into our community.