SRU named one of the nation’s best for students on the autism spectrum


Autism heart on a blue background

Jan. 10, 2020

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University has been named one of the country's 30 best small colleges or universities for students on the autism spectrum by

To compile its rankings, the website considered a number of factors, including:
Size: Schools with a student population of 10,000 or fewer.
Specialized programs: Colleges and universities that offer support and resources specific to students on the autism spectrum.
Overall autism "friendliness": Examples of "autism friendliness" include buddy systems, special housing accommodations and events meant to bring all students together.
Scholarships and financial support: Schools that offer scholarships specifically for students on the autism spectrum.
The "It" factor: Examples might include autism-related research programs, courses on autism, schools founded specifically as a place for those with learning differences, etc.

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SRU supports students and persons on the autism spectrum in a variety of ways including a program provided through the Office of Disability Services that supports successful degree completion for SRU students with autism spectrum disorders.

The program provides one-on-one coaching and group meetings to help students on the autism spectrum perform executive functions and develop social skills. As many as 10 participants have enrolled in the program.

Modeled after Project AACHIEVE, a transition program offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for high school and college students on the autism spectrum, the program at SRU is in its second year.

SRU's Rock Life program is a non-degree seeking program that provides students with intellectual or developmental disabilities a path to competitive employment and lifelong wellness. Rock Life is one of more than 250 such programs in the country where students with intellectual or developmental disabilities take classes without earning credit and experience college life at a less rigorous pace and earn a certificate after completing two or four years. After two years, Rock Life students can transfer into a degree-seeking program if they qualify. Additionally, Rock Life students have the option to live in a campus residence hall as part of a living learning community where they are matched as a roommate with a traditional SRU student who opts into the LLC to provide support.

Last April, in recognition of Autism Awareness Month, the University hosted an Autism Conference. The biennial event hosted by SRU's colleges of Health, Engineering and Science, Education and Liberal Arts, includes the presentation of the Strickland Autism Advocate Awards, a keynote address, a panel discussion and guest speakers. The Strickland Autism Advocate scholarships are presented to "deserving students who have completed significant work with or in support of people on the autism spectrum."

The University's Storm Harbor Equestrian Center provides weekly equine-assisted activities for people of all ages with cognitive, physical, emotional and social disabilities. The center provides certified instructors and services for its Special Olympic Equestrian Team, Disabled veterans programs, community summer camps and many programs for individuals on the autism spectrum.

To view the complete list, click here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 |