College Access, Success and Equity for Students on the Autism Spectrum
College may be considered a gateway to success, yet access to college is limited for young adults with autism. Given the research recommendations to elicit student experiences and to communicate among universities to improve college access, success, and equity, the present study examined the questions: What factors are perceived as pathways to success or barriers to success by college students on the autism spectrum? What university provided accommodations and/or support services do they prefer? Participants from four universities completed surveys and semi-structured interviews. Findings from the multi-university study suggest the need to provide transition planning and systematic non-academic social and emotional supports from the start of the college experience as well as specific training for faculty, staff, and peers.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder College University Accommodations Mental health
ALA and SJK conceived of the study. ALA and SJK carried out the study at the first university, KB and BC carried out the study at a second university, AG carried out the study at a third university and RE carried out the study at a fourth university. ALA led the manuscript preparation with all authors contributing. KB and BC led the coding of data. EMB participated in data entry and analysis. All authors read and approved of the final manuscript.
No financial support was given for this research.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Accardo, A. L. (2017). College-bound young adults with ASD: Self-reported factors promoting and inhibiting success. DADD Online Journal,4(1), 36–46.Google Scholar
- Anderson, A. H., Stephenson, J., & Carter, M. (2017). A systematic literature review of the experiences and supports of students with autism spectrum disorder in post-secondary education. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders,39, 33–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2017.04.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Cresswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Los Angeles: SAGE.Google Scholar
- Gelbar, N. W., Smith, I., & Reichow, B. (2014). Systematic review of articles describing experience and supports of individuals with autism enrolled in college and university programs. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders,44(10), 2593–2601. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2135-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Jackson, S. L. J., Hart, L., Thierfeld Brown, J., & Volkmar, F. R. (2018). Brief report: Self-reported academic, social, and mental health experiences of post-secondary students with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders,48, 643–650. https://doi.org/10.1007/s/s10803-017-3315-x.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Newman L., Wagner M., Knokey A., Marder, C., Nagle, K., Shaver, D. & Wei, X. (2011) The posthigh 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, September. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.Google Scholar
- Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2011). Designing qualitative research. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.Google Scholar
- McMorris, C. A., Baraskewich, J., Ames, M. A., Shaikh, K. T., Ncube, B. L., & Bebko, J. M. (2018). Mental health issues in post-secondary students with autism spectrum disorder: Experiences in accessing services. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 17(3), 585–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Nicolaidis C., Raymaker, D., Kapp, S. K., Baggs, A., Ashkenazy, E., McDonald, K., … Joyce, A. (2019). The AASPIRE practice-based guidelines for the inclusion of autistic adults in research as co-researchers and study participants. Autism. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361319830523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Saldana, J. (2009). An introduction to codes and coding. The coding manual for qualitative researchers (3rd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Taylor, J. L., & Seltzer, M. M. (2011). Employment and post-secondary educational activities for young adults with autism spectrum disorders during the transition to adulthood. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders,41(5), 566–574. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-1070-3.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of mixed methods research: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social and behavioral sciences. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- US Department of Education and National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2017). The condition of education 2017. NCES 2017-144, Undergraduate Retention and Graduation Rates. Retrieved August 19, 2019, from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017144.pdf.
- Ward, D., & Webster, A. (2018). Understanding the lived experiences of university students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD): A phenomenological study. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education,65(4), 373–392. https://doi.org/10.1080/1034912X.2017.1403573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar