What is College Connect?

College Connect is a comprehensive integrative program that functions within the educational environment (school campus) and surrounding community. College Connect is individualized to meet the range of skills and abilities of each student. Furthermore, program is flexible enough to meet the fluctuating challenges that emerge within the school.


The program is a collaborative care model that fluidly interacts within various college systems and is coordinated with the students’ Regional Center Service Coordinator.  

The philosophy of College Connect is built on the following four foundational cornerstones that guide the assessment and treatment process:

(1) That each individual has a unique set of strengths and limitations that coexist. With appropriate assessment and intervention, each individual can improve the quality of their life across all settings. 

(2) Current levels of functioning for each individual must be viewed in the context of the home, school, and community. 

(3) The assessment and treatment plan must be developed and implemented with sensitivity to cultural and linguistic diversity.

(4) Due to the nature of ASD and related developmental disabilities, variation in communication, socialization, and sensory-motor, and adaptive skills must be fully assessed. 

The program is conceptualized under three broad categories:


  • Strategies for cognitive regulation

  • Strategies for emotional regulation

  • strategies for behavioural regulation

Taken together, these three primary areas of support form the basis of the program.


Students with disabilities are frequently overwhelmed when required to match their behavior, knowledge and skills with the demands of higher education and employment.


This can have a profound impact on how a student thinks, feels, and behaves. Program strategies are modeled, scripted, and rehearsed in an effort to build and teach social competencies. 

Individual Support

Each student is assigned a College Connect Student Coach. They conduct weekly individual counseling sessions. The purpose of the individual counseling session is to provide individualized support to the student. 


Individual sessions are directly connected to observation. Individual counseling provides an opportunity to focus on cognitive restructuring, scripting/shaping, modeling and rehearsal of adaptive behaviors.  Counseling is focused on applied strategies that are specifically developed to build social and academic competencies. 


The 1:1 session  is structured to be nonthreatening and supportive environment where the student can practice strategies that will be applied in daily living.  


Group Support: weekly group sessions

Groups can consist of two to three students.


The purpose of the small group is to expand and practice behaviors that have been cultivated during the individual counseling sessions.


Small group allows students to practice counseling strategies with a peer under the guidance of their Coach. The goal is to build generalization opportunities for the student.

Group Support: weekly large group sessions

Large group activities most closely reflect a classroom environment. Large group can be viewed as the most challenging environment under a controlled setting. The goal is to further expand behavioral generalization to a more naturalistic setting. Socialization as well as instructive activities occurs in the large group .


There is an active interplay (feedback loop) between Naturalistic Observation, Individual Sessions, Small Group, and Large Group. 

Examples of Group Topics

Identify strengths, weaknesses, needs and preferences

Develop decision making skills

Identify personal rights and responsibilities

Goal setting

Anticipate consequences

Enhancing creativity in problem solving

Developing communication skills

Access resources and support

Develop negotiation skills

Getting to know your college

Learning styles

Behavior management

Stress management

Procrastination and priorities

Outcome Assessment Activity

Activities are a set of tasks that aim to demonstrate acquired skills and application that is reviewed and taught in group.


Activities also serve as a means to collect feedback from our students as the effectiveness of group programing.  


Clinical Observation

(Naturalistic Free Operant Observation)

  • Naturalistic observation of free operant responding occurs in the client’s everyday environment . Observation is defined and occurring on all locations on campus and the community. Students know that observations will occur in these various settings and will occur with or without their knowledge. In keeping with qualitative methods of data collection, observations can be described as disguised (unknown to client) and undisguised (known to client).  Observational data is actively used to inform the interactive dynamic feedback loop which informs the other.

  • Treatment plans are based on observation and observation is informing the foundational generalized skills treatment plan. 


Professor: Academic Contact

  • Professor/academic contact is an essential part of the students’ program. Input from academic “stakeholders” provides important information to the feedback loop process. Understanding both maladaptive and adaptive behaviors are reinforced through this interactive process. 

  • Professor and academic contact is permitted per campus policy and students may need to initiate support in writing, per appointment and not all appointments are guaranteed. It is preferred that students can initiate and attend meetings on their own with the support of College Connect staff through modeling, scripting, and review before and after meetings.

  • We believe that for many students this is an important and necessary next step towards greater independence and self-advocacy. However, there are instances where our physical presence is helpful as students build these skills. College Connect staff presence in meetings is only as a support, and not as a personal advocate. It is important to note that College Connect will not attend meetings related to grade disputes or other disputes that involve college administration. Due to the variable nature of these disputes, it is best that families attend such meetings.


Sibling / Family

  • The parent/ caregiver involvement is an important part of the treatment process. Students meet their most optimal success when the parent actively supports the process.  

  • Parents have played a critical role in the students’ life as an active participant in managing their educational plans. Parent support can help keep the student motivated when discouraged and wanting to give up. 

  • College Connect provides ongoing opportunity for parent involvement. Family support is comprised of “open access” to College Connect staff and administration. The behavioral patterns between parent and student have been actively reinforced for many years. For a student to develop optimal self-sufficiency, parent support needs to be redefined.  This process can be counter -intuitive to the parent, therefore College Connect provides the opportunity to explore these challenges with parents.