College as a Developmental Context for Emerging Adulthood in Autism: A Systematic Review of What We Know and Where We Go from Here

Abstract

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, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Although the American Psychological Association recommends person-first language, we are using identity-first language on the basis of recommendations from autism disability advocates (Brown, 2011) and recent literature (Bury et al., 2020; Gernsbacher, 2018).

References

  1. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Alkan, N. (2014). Humor, loneliness and acceptance: Predictors of university drop-out intentions. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 152, 1079–1086.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Arnett, J. J. (2014). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  15. Arnett, J. J. (2007). Emerging adulthood: What is it, and what is it good for? Child Development Perspectives, 1(2), 68–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55(5), 469.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 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.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Baker, R. W., & Siryk, B. (1984). Measuring adjustment to college. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31(2), 179.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Baker, R. W., & Siryk, B. (1989). Student adaptation to college questionnaire: Manual. Torrance: Western Psychological Services.

    Google Scholar 

  23. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  25. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  27. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Britton, B. K., & Tesser, A. (1991). Effects of time-management practices on college grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(3), 405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Brown, L. (2011, August 4). Identity-first language. Autism Self Advocacy Network. https://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/identity-first-language/

  33. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 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

  37. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  38. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Cage, E., & Howes, J. (2020). Dropping out and moving on: A qualitative study of autistic people’s experiences of university. Autism, 24, 1664.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  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.

    Google Scholar 

  42. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Constantino, J. N., & Gruber, C. P. (2012). Social responsiveness scale: SRS-2. Torrance, CA: Western Psychological Services.

    Google Scholar 

  45. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  47. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  49. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Drake, S. (2014). College experience of academically successful students with autism. Journal of Autism, 1(5), 1–4.

    Google Scholar 

  51. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Furuhashi, Y. (2017). Group therapy for Japanese university students with autism spectrum disorder. Psychology, 8(05), 771.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  59. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. 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

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  64. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  65. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  68. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  69. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Howlin, P., & Moss, P. (2012). Adults with autism spectrum disorders. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 57(5), 275–283.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Hu, S. (2011). Reconsidering the relationship between student engagement and persistence in college. Innovative Higher Education, 36(2), 97–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Hurlbutt, K., & Chalmers, L. (2004). Employment and adults with Asperger syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 19(4), 215–222.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  76. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  77. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  79. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  84. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  85. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  86. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  87. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  88. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  89. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  90. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  91. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. 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.

  93. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  96. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  97. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  98. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  99. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  100. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  101. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  102. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  103. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  104. 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.

  105. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  106. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  107. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  108. 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/.

  109. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  110. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  111. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  112. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  113. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  114. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  115. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  116. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  117. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  118. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  119. Roberts, N., & Birmingham, E. (2017). Mentoring university students with ASD: A mentee-centered approach. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(4), 1038–1050.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  120. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  121. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  122. Rutter, M., Le Couteur, A., & Lord, C. (2003). Autism diagnostic interview-revised. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services, 29(2003), 30.

    Google Scholar 

  123. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  124. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  125. Sheeran, P., Klein, W. M., & Rothman, A. J. (2017). Health behavior change: Moving from observation to intervention. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 573–600.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  126. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  127. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  128. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  129. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  130. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  131. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  132. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  133. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  134. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  135. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  136. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  137. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  138. 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.

  139. Trostel, P. A. (2015). It’s not just the money: The benefits of college education to individuals and to society.

  140. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  141. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  142. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  143. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  144. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  145. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  146. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  147. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  148. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  149. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  150. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  151. 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.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  152. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  153. Wiorkowski, F. (2015). The experiences of students with autism spectrum disorders in college: A heuristic exploration. The Qualitative Report, 20(6), 847–863.

    Google Scholar 

  154. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  155. Zarrett, N., & Eccles, J. (2006). The passage to adulthood: Challenges of late adolescence. New Directions for Youth Development, 2006(111), 13–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  156. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  157. Zeedyk, S. M., Bolourian, Y., & Blacher, J. (2019). University life with ASD: Faculty knowledge and student needs. Autism, 23(3), 726–736.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  158. 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.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  159. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chaia Flegenheimer.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

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 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-05088-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Social communication
  • Daily living skills
  • Academic skills
  • Intervention
  • Emerging adulthood