Brief Report: Self-Reported Academic, Social, and Mental Health Experiences of Post-Secondary Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- 1.8k Downloads
Increasing numbers of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are enrolling in post-secondary academic institutions. However, research indicates that post-secondary students with ASD are struggling more than their typically developing peers, with high rates of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and an increased incidence of dropping-out before completion of their degrees. The current study utilized an online survey to gain insight into the self-reported academic, social, and mental health experiences of post-secondary students with ASD. Participants reported high levels of academic comfort, but struggled with issues of isolation/loneliness and high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Of greatest concern, were the nearly three-quarters of participants who reported lifetime suicidal behaviors. Further analysis on collected data and implications of findings are discussed.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Asperger’s College University Mental health Student
There is no direct funding to report for this study, however, the position of Scott L. J. Jackson is currently funded by the NIMH (T32 MH018268).
Study design and manuscript preparation was performed by SJ, LH, JB, and FV. Data collection and analysis was performed by SJ. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Allison, C., Auyeung, B., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2012). Toward brief “red flags” for autism screening: The short autism spectrum quotient and the short quantitative checklist in 1000 cases and 3000 controls. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(2), 202–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- American College Health Association. (2015). American college health association-national college health assessment IIb: Undergraduate students reference group executive summary spring 2015. Hanover, MD: American College Health Association.Google Scholar
- Anderson, C., & Butt, C. (2017). Young adults on the autism spectrum at college: Successes and stumbling blocks. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(10), 3029–3039.Google Scholar
- Brown, J. T., Wolf, L. E., & Kroesser, S. (2014). Innovative programming to support college students with autism spectrum disorders. In F. R. Volkmar, B. Reichow & J. McPartland (Eds.), Adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders (pp. 121–130). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Cassidy, S., Bradley, P., Robinson, J., Allison, C., McHugh, M., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2014). Suicidal ideation and suicide plans or attempts in adults with Asperger’s syndrome attending a specialist diagnostic clinic: A clinical cohort study. The Lancet Psychiatry, 1(2), 142–147.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Christensen, D. L., Baio, J., Braun, K. V. N., Bilder, D., Charles, J., Constantino, J. N., … & Lee, L. C. (2016). Prevalence and characteristics of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years: Autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 Sites, United States, 2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(3), 1–23.Google Scholar
- Doyle, C., McDougle, C., & Stigler, K. (2014). Pharmacotherapy of behavioral symptoms and psychiatric comorbidities in adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders. In F. R. Volkmar, B. Reichow & J. McPartland (Eds.), Adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders (pp. 161–191). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Drake, S. (2014). College experience of academically successful students with autism. Journal of Autism, 1(5), 1–4.Google Scholar
- Elias, R., & White, S. W. (2017). Autism goes to college: Understanding the needs of a student population on the rise. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. doi: 10.1007/s10803-017-3075-7.
- Lecavalier, L., Wood, J. J., Halladay, A. K., Jones, N. E., Aman, M. G., Cook, E. H., … & Sullivan, K. A. (2014). Measuring anxiety as a treatment endpoint in youth with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(5), 1128–1143.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Lovibond, S. H., & Lovibond, P. F. (1995). Manual for the depression anxiety stress scales (2nd edn.). Sydney: The Psychology Foundation of Australia Inc.Google Scholar
- Newman, L., Wagner, M., Knokey, A.-M., Marder, C., Nagle, K., Shaver, D., & Schwarting, M. (2011). The post-high school outcomes of young adults with disabilities up to 8 years after high school (A report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study–2 [NLTS2; NCSER 2011–3005]). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.Google Scholar
- White, S. W., Elias, R., Capriola-Hall, N. N., Smith, I. C., Conner, C. M., Asselin, S. B., … & Mazefsky, C. A. (2017). Development of a college transition and support program for students with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(10), 3072–3078.Google Scholar