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The Experiences of College Students on the Autism Spectrum: A Comparison to Their Neurotypical Peers

  • Jane D. McLeodEmail author
  • Emily Meanwell
  • Amelia Hawbaker
Original Paper

Abstract

This study describes the academic, social, and health experiences of college students on the autism spectrum as they compare to students with other disabilities and their non-disabled, neurotypical peers. Data were from an online survey of college students at 14 public institutions (N = 3073). There were few significant differences between students on the spectrum and students with other disabilities. Both groups of students reported significantly worse outcomes than neurotypical students on academic performance, social relationships and bullying, and physical and mental health. The findings suggest that some of the challenges students on the spectrum face in college result from the stigma and social rejection associated with disability rather than from the unique characteristics of autism.

Keywords

High-functioning autism Postsecondary education 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge the financial support of the Indiana University Sociological Research Practicum and the Indiana University Bloomington Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

Author Contributions

JDM conceived of the study, oversaw the design and implementation of the analysis, and drafted the manuscript. EM served as project director for the data collection, participated in the design of the analysis, and helped to draft the manuscript. AH participated in the data collection and in the design of the analysis and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding

This study was funded by the Indiana University Department of Sociology and the Indiana University Office of the Vice Provost for Research Faculty Research Support Program.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study 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

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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