Autistic individuals often struggle to successfully navigate emerging adulthood (EA). College is an increasingly common context in which individuals learn and hone the necessary skills for adulthood. The goal of this paper is to systematically review and assess the existing research on college as a context of EA development in autistic individuals, particularly in terms of understanding whether and how this context might be critically different for those who are typically developing or developing with other disabilities. Our findings indicate that ASD college students report feeling prepared academically, but exhibit weaknesses in daily living and social skills. Interventions largely focus on social skills, and rarely evaluate outcomes relevant to college success or longer-term emerging adulthood independence. We conclude with hypotheses and recommendations for future work that are essential for understanding and supporting ASD students as they navigate potentially unique challenges in college and their transition to independence during EA.
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
Accardo, A. L., Bean, K., Cook, B., Gillies, A., Edgington, R., Kuder, S. J., & Bomgardner, E. M. (2019). College access, success and equity for students on the autism spectrum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(12), 4877–4890.
Accardo, A. L., Kuder, S. J., & Woodruff, J. (2019). Accommodations and support services preferred by college students with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 23(3), 574–583.
Alkan, N. (2014). Humor, loneliness and acceptance: Predictors of university drop-out intentions. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 152, 1079–1086.
Alverson, C. Y., Lindstrom, L. E., & Hirano, K. A. (2015). High school to college: Transition experiences of young adults with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088357615611880
Ames, M. E., McMorris, C. A., Alli, L. N., & Bebko, J. M. (2016). Overview and evaluation of a mentorship program for university students with ASD. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 31(1), 27–36.
Anderson, A. H., Carter, M., & Stephenson, J. (2020). An on-line survey of university students with autism spectrum disorder in Australia and New Zealand: Characteristics, support satisfaction, and advocacy. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 50(2), 440–454.
Anderson, A. H., Stephenson, J., & Carter, M. (2020). Perspectives of former students with ASD from Australia and New Zealand on their University experience. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 50, 28886.
Anderson, A. H., Carter, M., & Stephenson, J. (2018). Perspectives of university students with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(3), 651–665.
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.
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.
Anderson, D. K., Liang, J. W., & Lord, C. (2014). Predicting young adult outcome among more and less cognitively able individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55(5), 485–494.
Anderson, K. A., Shattuck, P. T., Cooper, B. P., Roux, A. M., & Wagner, M. (2014). Prevalence and correlates of postsecondary residential status among young adults with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 18(5), 562–570.
Antshel, K. M., & Russo, N. (2019). Autism spectrum disorders and ADHD: Overlapping phenomenology, diagnostic issues, and treatment considerations. Current Psychiatry Reports, 21(5), 1–11.
Arnett, J. J. (2014). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Arnett, J. J. (2007). Emerging adulthood: What is it, and what is it good for? Child Development Perspectives, 1(2), 68–73.
Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55(5), 469.
Arnett, J. J., Žukauskienė, R., & Sugimura, K. (2014). The new life stage of emerging adulthood at ages 18–29 years: Implications for mental health. The Lancet Psychiatry, 1(7), 569–576.
Ashbaugh, K., Koegel, R. L., & Koegel, L. K. (2017). Increasing social integration for college students with autism spectrum disorder. Behavioral Development Bulletin, 22(1), 183.
Bailey, K. M., Frost, K. M., Casagrande, K., & Ingersoll, B. (2020). The relationship between social experience and subjective well-being in autistic college students: A mixed methods study. Autism, 24(5), 1081–1092.
Baio, J., Wiggins, L., Christensen, D. L., Maenner, M. J., Daniels, J., Warren, Z., Durkin, M. S., et al. (2018). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years—autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 sites, United States, 2014. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 67(6), 1.
Baker, R. W., & Siryk, B. (1984). Measuring adjustment to college. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31(2), 179.
Baker, R. W., & Siryk, B. (1989). Student adaptation to college questionnaire: Manual. Torrance: Western Psychological Services.
Bal, V. H., Kim, S. H., Cheong, D., & Lord, C. (2015). Daily living skills in individuals with autism spectrum disorder from 2 to 21 years of age. Autism, 19(7), 774–784.
Banda, D. R., & Grimmett, E. (2008). Enhancing social and transition behaviors of persons with autism through activity schedules: A review. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 35, 16524–17333.
Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Skinner, R., Martin, J., & Clubley, E. (2001). The autism-spectrum quotient (AQ): Evidence from Asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism, males and females, scientists and mathematicians. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31(1), 5–17.
Beardon, L., Martin, N., & Woolsey, I. (2009). What do students with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism want at college and university? (in their own words). Good Autism Practice (GAP), 10(2), 35–43.
Berument, S. K., Rutter, M., Lord, C., Pickles, A., & Bailey, A. (1999). Autism screening questionnaire: diagnostic validity. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 175(5), 444–451.
Billstedt, E., Gillberg, C., & Gillberg, C. (2005). Autism after adolescence: population-based 13-to 22-year follow-up study of 120 individuals with autism diagnosed in childhood. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35(3), 351–360.
Bolourian, Y., Zeedyk, S. M., & Blacher, J. (2018). Autism and the university experience: Narratives from students with neurodevelopmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(10), 3330–3343.
Britton, B. K., & Tesser, A. (1991). Effects of time-management practices on college grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(3), 405.
Brooks, W. T., & Benson, B. A. (2013). The validity of the social communication questionnaire in adults with intellectual disability. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7(2), 247–255.
Brown, L. (2011, August 4). Identity-first language. Autism Self Advocacy Network. https://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/identity-first-language/
Brown, K. B., & Coomes, M. D. (2016). A spectrum of support: Current and Best practices for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at community colleges. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 40, 465–479.
Brown, K. R., Peña, E. V., & Rankin, S. (2017). Unwanted sexual contact: Students with autism and other disabilities at greater risk. Journal of College Student Development, 58(5), 771–776.
Buote, V. M., Pancer, S. M., Pratt, M. W., Adams, G., Birnie-Lefcovitch, S., Polivy, J., & Wintre, M. G. (2007). The importance of friends: Friendship and adjustment among 1st-year university students. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22(6), 665–689.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor (2019). College Enrollment and Work Activity of Recent High School and College Graduates Summary. Economic News Release at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/hsgec.nr0.htm
Bury, S. M., Jellett, R., Spoor, J. R., & Hedley, D. (2020). “It Defines Who I Am” or “It’s Something I Have”: What Language Do [Autistic] Australian Adults [on the Autism Spectrum] Prefer? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43, 1547.
Cage, E., De Andres, M., & Mahoney, P. (2020). Understanding the factors that affect university completion for autistic people. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 72, 101519.
Cage, E., & Howes, J. (2020). Dropping out and moving on: A qualitative study of autistic people’s experiences of university. Autism, 24, 1664.
Cai, R. Y., & Richdale, A. L. (2016). Educational experiences and needs of higher education students with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(1), 31–41.
Capriola-Hall, N. N., Brewe, A. M., Golt, J., & White, S. W. (2020). Anxiety and depression reduction as distal outcomes of a college transition readiness program for adults with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders., 51, 576.
Casement, S., & Carpio de los Pinos, C., & Forrester-Jones, R. . (2017). Experiences of university life for students with Asperger’s Syndrome: a comparative study between Spain and England. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 21(1), 73–89.
Colclough, M. N. (2018). Exploring student diversity: College students who have Autism Spectrum Disorders. Inquiry: the Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges, 21(1), 5.
Constantino, J. N., & Gruber, C. P. (2012). Social responsiveness scale: SRS-2. Torrance, CA: Western Psychological Services.
Cox, B. E., Thompson, K., Anderson, A., Mintz, A., Locks, T., Morgan, L., Wolz, A., et al. (2017). College experiences for students with autism spectrum disorder: Personal identity, public disclosure, and institutional support. Journal of College Student Development, 58(1), 71–87.
Craig, F., Margari, F., Legrottaglie, A. R., Palumbi, R., De Giambattista, C., & Margari, L. (2016). A review of executive function deficits in autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 12, 1191.
Croen, L. A., Zerbo, O., Qian, Y., Massolo, M. L., Rich, S., Sidney, S., & Kripke, C. (2015). The health status of adults on the autism spectrum. Autism, 19(7), 814–823.
Cullen, J. A. (2015). The needs of college students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger’s syndrome. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 28(1), 89–101.
DePape, A. M., & Lindsay, S. (2016). Lived experiences from the perspective of individuals with autism spectrum disorder: A qualitative meta-synthesis. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 31(1), 60–71.
Drake, S. (2014). College experience of academically successful students with autism. Journal of Autism, 1(5), 1–4.
Dymond, S. K., Meadan, H., & Pickens, J. L. (2017). Postsecondary education and students with autism spectrum disorders: Experiences of parents and university personnel. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 29(5), 809–825.
Elias, R., & White, S. W. (2018). Autism goes to college: Understanding the needs of a student population on the rise. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(3), 732–746.
Ebensen, A. J., Bishop, S., Seltzer, M. M., Greenberg, J. S., & Taylor, J. L. (2010). Comparisons between individuals with autism spectrum disorders and individuals with Down syndrome in adulthood. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 115(4), 277–290.
Esler, A., Hewitt, A., Hall-Lande, J., Pettingell, S. L., & Houseworth, J. (2019). Psychotropic medication use for adults with autism spectrum disorder who receive services and supports through adult developmental disability services in the United States. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(6), 2291–2303.
Frost, K. M., Bailey, K. M., & Ingersoll, B. R. (2019). “I Just Want Them to See Me As… Me”: Identity, Community, and Disclosure Practices Among College Students on the Autism Spectrum. Autism in Adulthood, 1(4), 268–275.
Furuhashi, Y. (2017). Group therapy for Japanese university students with autism spectrum disorder. Psychology, 8(05), 771.
Geiser, S., & Santelices, M. V. (2007). Validity of high-school grades in predicting student success beyond the freshman year: High-school record vs. standardized tests as indicators of four-year college outcomes. Center for Studies in Higher Education.
Gelbar, N. W., Shefcyk, A., & Reichow, B. (2015). A comprehensive survey of current and former college students with autism spectrum disorders. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 88(1), 45.
Gernsbacher, M. A. (2018). Editorial perspective: The use of person-first language in scholarly writing may accentuate stigma. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58(7), 859–861.
Goldman, S. E., Alder, M. L., Burgess, H. J., Corbett, B. A., Hundley, R., Wofford, D., Malow, B. A., et al. (2017). Characterizing sleep in adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(6), 1682–1695.
Gomes, A. A., Tavares, J., & de Azevedo, M. H. P. (2011). Sleep and academic performance in undergraduates: A multi-measure, multi-predictor approach. Chronobiology International, 28(9), 786–801.
Gurbuz, E., Hanley, M., & Riby, D. M. (2019). University students with Autism: The social and academic experiences of University in the UK. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(2), 617–631.
Han, G. T., Tomarken, A. J., & Gotham, K. O. (2019). Social and nonsocial reward moderate the relation between autism symptoms and loneliness in adults with ASD, depression, and controls. Autism Research, 12(6), 884–896. https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2088
Harn, M., Azios, J., Azios, M., & Smith, D. (2020). The lived experience of college students with autism spectrum disorder: A phenomenological study. College Student Journal, 53(4), 450–464.
Hawkins, M. T., Villagonzalo, K. A., Sanson, A. V., Toumbourou, J. W., Letcher, P., & Olsson, C. A. (2012). Associations between positive development in late adolescence and social, health, and behavioral outcomes in young adulthood. Journal of Adult Development, 19(2), 88–99.
Hekler, E., Tiro, J. A., Hunter, C. M., & Nebeker, C. (2020). Precision health: The role of the social and behavioral sciences in advancing the vision. Annals of Behavioral Medicine., 54, 805.
Hill, P. L., Jackson, J. J., Roberts, B. W., Lapsley, D. K., & Brandenberger, J. W. (2011). Change you can believe in: Changes in goal setting during emerging and young adulthood predict later adult well-being. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(2), 123–131.
Hill, E., Berthoz, S., & Frith, U. (2004). Brief report: Cognitive processing of own emotions in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder and in their relatives. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34(2), 229–235.
Hillier, A., Goldstein, J., Murphy, D., Trietsch, R., Keeves, J., Mendes, E., & Queenan, A. (2018). Supporting university students with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 22(1), 20–28.
Hotez, E., Shane-Simpson, C., Obeid, R., DeNigris, D., Siller, M., Costikas, C., Gillespie-Lynch, K., et al. (2018). Designing a summer transition program for incoming and current college students on the autism spectrum: A participatory approach. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 46.
Howlin, P., Goode, S., Hutton, J., & Rutter, M. (2004). Adult outcome for children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(2), 212–229.
Howlin, P., & Moss, P. (2012). Adults with autism spectrum disorders. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 57(5), 275–283.
Hu, S. (2011). Reconsidering the relationship between student engagement and persistence in college. Innovative Higher Education, 36(2), 97–106.
Hurlbutt, K., & Chalmers, L. (2004). Employment and adults with Asperger syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 19(4), 215–222.
Hurley, R. S., Losh, M., Parlier, M., Reznick, J. S., & Piven, J. (2007). The broad autism phenotype questionnaire. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(9), 1679–1690.
Jackson, S. L., Hart, L., Brown, J. T., & 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(3), 643–650.
Jansen, D., Petry, K., Ceulemans, E., Noens, I., & Baeyens, D. (2017). Functioning and participation problems of students with ASD in higher education: Which reasonable accommodations are effective? European Journal of Special Needs Education, 32(1), 71–88.
Kelly, J., LaVergne, D., Boone, H., & Boone, D. (2012). Perceptions of college students on social factors that influence student matriculation. College Student Journal, 46(3), 653–664.
Knott, F., & Taylor, A. (2014). Life at university with Asperger syndrome: A comparison of student and staff perspectives. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 18(4), 411–426.
Knouse, L. E., Feldman, G., & Blevins, E. J. (2014). Executive functioning difficulties as predictors of academic performance: Examining the role of grade goals. Learning and Individual Differences, 36, 19–26.
Koegel, L. K., Ashbaugh, K., Koegel, R. L., Detar, W. J., & Regester, A. (2013). Increasing socialization in adults with Asperger’s syndrome. Psychology in the Schools, 50(9), 899–909.
Krahn, H. J., Howard, A. L., & Galambos, N. L. (2015). Exploring or floundering? The meaning of employment and educational fluctuations in emerging adulthood. Youth & Society, 47(2), 245–266.
Kuder, S. J., & Accardo, A. (2018). What works for college students with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(3), 722–731.
Lai, C. L. E., Lau, Z., Lui, S. S., Lok, E., Tam, V., Chan, Q., Cheung, E. F., et al. (2017). Meta-analysis of neuropsychological measures of executive functioning in children and adolescents with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 10(5), 911–939.
Lambe, S., Russell, A., Butler, C., Fletcher, S., Ashwin, C., & Brosnan, M. (2019). Autism and the transition to university from the student perspective. Autism, 23(6), 1531–1541.
LeGary, R. A., Jr. (2017). College students with autism spectrum disorder: Perceptions of social supports that buffer college-related stress and facilitate academic success. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 30(3), 251–268.
Lei, J., Ashwin, C., Brosnan, M., & Russell, A. (2020). Differences in anxieties and social networks in a group-matched sample of autistic and typically developing students transitioning to university. Autism, 24(5), 1138–1151.
Lei, J., Ashwin, C., Brosnan, M., & Russell, A. (2019). Developing an online tool to measure social network structure and perceived social support amongst autistic students in higher education: A feasibility study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(9), 3526–3542.
Lei, J., Brosnan, M., Ashwin, C., & Russell, A. (2020b). Evaluating the role of autistic traits, social anxiety, and social network changes during transition to first year of university in typically developing students and students on the autism spectrum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 50, 2832–2851.
Lei, J., Calley, S., Brosnan, M., Ashwin, C., & Russell, A. (2020c). Evaluation of a transition to university programme for students with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 50(7), 2397–2411.
Lizotte, M. (2018). I am a college graduate: Postsecondary experiences as described by adults with autism spectrum disorders. International Journal of Education and Practice, 6(4), 179–191.
Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P. C., Risi, S., Gotham, K., Bishop, S. L., & Gutrie, W. (2012). (ADOS-2) Manual (Part I): modules 1–4. Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.
Lucas, R., & James, A. I. (2018). An evaluation of specialist mentoring for university students with autism spectrum disorders and mental health conditions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(3), 694–707.
Ma, J., Pender, M., & Welch, M. (2019). Education pays 2019: The benefits of higher education for individuals and society. College Board: Trends in Higher Education Series at https://research.collegeboard.org/pdf/education-pays-2019-full-report.pdf.
Madriaga, M. (2010). ‘I avoid pubs and the student union like the plague’: Students with Asperger Syndrome and their negotiation of university spaces. Children’s Geographies, 8(1), 39–50.
Marriage, S., Wolverton, A., & Marriage, K. (2009). Autism spectrum disorder grown up: A chart review of adult functioning. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 18(4), 322.
Mazefsky, C. A., & White, S. W. (2015). Emotion regulation: Concepts & practice in autism spectrum disorder. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 23, 1.
Melendez, M. C. (2019). The influence of residential status on the adjustment to college at four urban universities. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 20(4), 437–454.
McLeod, J. D., Hawbaker, A., & Meanwell, E. (2020). The health of college students on the autism spectrum as compared to their neurotypical peers. Autism, 25, 719.
McLeod, J. D., Meanwell, E., & Hawbaker, A. (2019). The experiences of college students on the autism spectrum: A comparison to their neurotypical peers. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(6), 2320–2336.
Migliore, A., Timmons, J., Butterworth, J., & m & Lugas, J. . (2012). Predictors of employment and postsecondary education of youth with autism. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 55(3), 176–184.
Misra, R., & McKean, M. (2000). College students’ academic stress and its relation to their anxiety, time management, and leisure satisfaction. American Journal of Health Studies, 16(1), 41.
Mitchell, W., & Beresford, B. (2014). Young people with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome planning for and anticipating the move to college: What supports a positive transition? British Journal of Special Education, 41(2), 151–171.
Newman, L., Wagner, M., Knokey, A. M., Marder, C., Nagle, K., Shaver, D., & Wei, X. (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. National Center for Special Education Research.
Nicpon, M. F., Huser, L., Blanks, E. H., Sollenberger, S., Befort, C., & Kurpius, S. E. R. (2006). The relationship of loneliness and social support with college freshmen’s academic performance and persistence. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 8(3), 345–358.
Nuske, A., Rillotta, F., Bellon, M., & Richdale, A. (2019). Transition to higher education for students with autism: A systematic literature review. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 12(3), 280.
Okano, K., Kaczmarzyk, J. R., Dave, N., Gabrieli, J. D., & Grossman, J. C. (2019). Sleep quality, duration, and consistency are associated with better academic performance in college students. NPJ Science of Learning, 4(1), 1–5.
Parker, K., & Stepler, R. (2017). As U.S. marriage rate hovers at 50%, education gap in marital status widens. Pew Research Center at https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/14/as-u-s-marriage-rate-hovers-at-50-education-gap-in-marital-status-widens/.
Peltzer, K., & Pengpid, S. (2015). Correlates of healthy fruit and vegetable diet in students in low, middle and high income countries. International Journal of Public Health, 60(1), 79–90.
Peña, E. V., & Kocur, J. (2013). Parents’ experiences in the transition of students with autism spectrum disorders to community college. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 20(2), 25–32.
Phillips, G. W. (2005). Does eating breakfast Affect the performance of college students on biology exams? Bioscience: Journal of College Biology Teaching, 30(4), 15–19.
Pittman, L. D., & Richmond, A. (2008). University belonging, friendship quality, and psychological adjustment during the transition to college. The Journal of Experimental Education, 76(4), 343–362.
Pressman, S. D., Cohen, S., Miller, G. E., Barkin, A., Rabin, B. S., & Treanor, J. J. (2005). Loneliness, social network size, and immune response to influenza vaccination in college freshmen. Health Psychology, 24(3), 297.
Pugliese, C. E., & White, S. W. (2014). Brief report: Problem solving therapy in college students with autism spectrum disorders: Feasibility and preliminary efficacy. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(3), 719–729.
Ratto, A. B., Turner-Brown, L., Rupp, B. M., Mesibov, G. B., & Penn, D. L. (2011). Development of the contextual assessment of social skills (CASS): A role play measure of social skill for individuals with high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41(9), 1277–1286.
Rando, H., Huber, M. J., & Oswald, G. R. (2016). An academic coaching model intervention for college students on the autism spectrum. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 29(3), 257–262.
Retherford, K. S., & Schreiber, L. R. (2015). Camp Campus: College preparation for adolescents and young adults with high-functioning autism, Asperger syndrome, and other social communication disorders. Topics in Language Disorders, 35(4), 362–385.
Richardson, J. T. (2017). Academic attainment in students with autism spectrum disorders in distance education. Open Learning: the Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 32(1), 81–91.
Roberts, N., & Birmingham, E. (2017). Mentoring university students with ASD: A mentee-centered approach. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(4), 1038–1050.
Roksa, J., & Kinsley, P. (2019). The role of family support in facilitating academic success of low-income students. Research in Higher Education, 60(4), 415–436.
Roux, A. M., Shattuck, P. T., Rast, J. E., Rava, J. A., & Anderson, K. A. (2015). National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood. Life Course Outcomes Research Program, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University.
Rutter, M., Le Couteur, A., & Lord, C. (2003). Autism diagnostic interview-revised. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services, 29(2003), 30.
Schindler, V., Cajiga, A., Aaronson, R., & Salas, L. (2015). The experience of transition to college for students diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 3(1), 2.
Shattuck, P. T., Narendorf, S. C., Cooper, B., Sterzing, P. R., Wagner, M., & Taylor, J. L. (2012). Postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics, 129(6), 1042.
Sheeran, P., Klein, W. M., & Rothman, A. J. (2017). Health behavior change: Moving from observation to intervention. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 573–600.
Shmulsky, S., Gobbo, K., & Donahue, A. (2015). Groundwork for success: A college transition program for students with ASD. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 28(2), 235–241.
Skahill, M. P. (2002). The role of social support network in college persistence among freshman students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 4(1), 39–52.
Stokes, M., Newton, N., & Kaur, A. (2007). Stalking, and social and romantic functioning among adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(10), 1969–1986.
Strom, R. E., & Savage, M. W. (2014). Assessing the relationships between perceived support from close others, goal commitment, and persistence decisions at the college level. Journal of College Student Development, 55(6), 531–547.
Strunz, S., Schermuck, C., Ballerstein, S., Ahlers, C. J., Dziobek, I., & Roepke, S. (2016). Romantic relationships and relationship satisfaction among adults with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 73(1), 113–125.
Sturm, A., & Kasari, C. (2019). Academic and psychosocial characteristics of incoming college freshmen with autism spectrum disorder: The role of comorbidity and gender. Autism Research: Official Journal of the International Society for Autism Research., 12, 931–940.
Swenson, L. M., Nordstrom, A., & Hiester, M. (2008). The role of peer relationships in adjustment to college. Journal of College Student Development, 49(6), 551–567.
Taylor, J. L., Henninger, N. A., & Mailick, M. R. (2015). Longitudinal patterns of employment and postsecondary education for adults with autism and average-range IQ. Autism, 19(7), 785–793.
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.
Thompson, C., Falkmer, T., Evans, K., Bölte, S., & Girdler, S. (2018). A realist evaluation of peer mentoring support for university students with autism. British Journal of Special Education, 45(4), 412–434.
Tops, W., Van Den Bergh, A., Noens, I., & Baeyens, D. (2017). A multi-method assessment of study strategies in higher education students with an autism spectrum disorder. Learning and Individual Differences, 59, 141–148.
Trockel, M. T., Barnes, M. D., & Egget, D. L. (2000). Health-related variables and academic performance among first-year college students: Implications for sleep and other behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 49(3), 125–131.
Tropey, E. (2018). Measuring the value of education. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/data-on-display/education-pays.htm?view_full.
Trostel, P. A. (2015). It’s not just the money: The benefits of college education to individuals and to society.
Trueman, M., & Hartley, J. (1996). A comparison between the time-management skills and academic performance of mature and traditional-entry university students. Higher Education, 32(2), 199–215.
Van Hees, V., Moyson, T., & Roeyers, H. (2015). Higher education experiences of students with autism spectrum disorder: Challenges, benefits and support needs. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(6), 1673–1688.
Van Hees, V., Roeyers, H., & De Mol, J. (2018). Students with autism spectrum disorder and their parents in the transition into higher education: Impact on dynamics in the parent–child relationship. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(10), 3296–3310.
Vincent, J., Potts, M., Fletcher, D., Hodges, S., Howells, J., Mitchell, A., Ledger, T., et al. (2017). ‘I think autism is like running on Windows while everyone else is a Mac’: Using a participatory action research approach with students on the autistic spectrum to rearticulate autism and the lived experience of university. Educational Action Research, 25(2), 300–315.
Warburton, E. C., Bugarin, R., & Nuñez, A. M. (2001). Bridging the gap: Academic preparation and postsecondary success of first-generation students. Education Statistics Quarterly, 3(3), 73–77.
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.
Weiss, A. L., & Rohland, P. (2015). Implementing a communication coaching program for students with autism spectrum disorders in postsecondary education. Topics in Language Disorders, 35(4), 345–361.
White, C., Kolble, R., Carlson, R., Lipson, N., Dolan, M., Ali, Y., & Cline, M. (2003). The effect of hand hygiene on illness rate among students in university residence halls. American Journal of Infection Control, 31(6), 364–370.
White, C., Kolble, R., Carlson, R., & Lipson, N. (2005). The impact of a health campaign on hand hygiene and upper respiratory illness among college students living in residence halls. Journal of American College Health, 53(4), 175–181.
White, S. W., Elias, R., Salinas, C. E., Capriola, N., Conner, C. M., Asselin, S. B., Getzel, E. E., et al. (2016a). Students with autism spectrum disorder in college: Results from a preliminary mixed methods needs analysis. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 56, 29–40.
White, S. W., Richey, J. A., Gracanin, D., Coffman, M., Elias, R., LaConte, S., & Ollendick, T. H. (2016b). Psychosocial and computer-assisted intervention for college students with autism spectrum disorder: Preliminary support for feasibility. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 51(3), 307.
White, S. W., Elias, R., Capriola-Hall, N. N., Smith, I. C., Conner, C. M., Asselin, S. B., et al. (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.
White, S. W., Smith, I. C., Miyazaki, Y., Conner, C. M., Elias, R., & Capriola-Hall, N. N. (2019). Improving transition to adulthood for students with autism: A randomized controlled trial of STEPS. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 50, 187.
Wiorkowski, F. (2015). The experiences of students with autism spectrum disorders in college: A heuristic exploration. The Qualitative Report, 20(6), 847–863.
Wong, M. L., Lau, E. Y. Y., Wan, J. H. Y., Cheung, S. F., Hui, C. H., & Mok, D. S. Y. (2013). The interplay between sleep and mood in predicting academic functioning, physical health and psychological health: a longitudinal study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 74(4), 271–277.
Zarrett, N., & Eccles, J. (2006). The passage to adulthood: Challenges of late adolescence. New Directions for Youth Development, 2006(111), 13–28.
Zawadzki, M. J., Graham, J. E., & Gerin, W. (2013). Rumination and anxiety mediate the effect of loneliness on depressed mood and sleep quality in college students. Health Psychology, 32(2), 212.
Zeedyk, S. M., Bolourian, Y., & Blacher, J. (2019). University life with ASD: Faculty knowledge and student needs. Autism, 23(3), 726–736.
Zukerman, G., Yahav, G., & Ben-Itzchak, E. (2019). Increased psychiatric symptoms in university students with autism spectrum disorder are associated with reduced adaptive behavior. Psychiatry Research, 273, 732–738.
Zumbrunn, S., McKim, C., Buhs, E., & Hawley, L. R. (2014). Support, belonging, motivation, and engagement in the college classroom: A mixed method study. Instructional Science, 42(5), 661–684.
C.M. Flegenheimer and K. S. Scherf both conceptualized and wrote the manuscript together. Both authors approved the final version of the manuscript for publication. Research reported in this publication was supported by the Pennsylvania State University Center for Online Innovation in Learning, the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant R33-MH110624). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The author(s) declared that there were no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship or the publication of this article.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Flegenheimer, C., Scherf, K.S. College as a Developmental Context for Emerging Adulthood in Autism: A Systematic Review of What We Know and Where We Go from Here. J Autism Dev Disord 52, 2075–2097 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-05088-4