Post-secondary education experiences and needs of students with autism spectrum disorder
AdvisorSelf, Trisha L.
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Her, A.; Tang, Y. 2021. Post-secondary education experiences and needs of students with autism spectrum disorder -- In Proceedings: 17th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University
INTRODUCTION: The number of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) pursuing a post-secondary degree is increasing nationwide. Shattuck and colleagues (2012) reported that approximately 55% of students with ASD received some type of postsecondary education in the United States; accounting for approximately 1-2% of students enrolled in universities. Unfortunately, a significant number of those students did not graduate. This poor outcome has been attributed in part to the loss of services students experienced when they left high school and entered unfamiliar situations with unfamiliar instructors (Zeedyk et al., 2016). In response, universities have been working to put supports in place for students on the autism spectrum. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to conduct an on-line survey to determine and better understand the academic and non-academic experiences, supports, and needs of students with ASD at Wichita State University (WSU). METHOD: Students enrolled at WSU, who had self-identified as individuals with ASD through the Office of Disability Services (ODS), were recruited to participate in this study. ODS administrators agreed to assist with recruitment. A total of 15 students with ASD, of the 37 who had registered with ODS, agreed to participate. Students were sent an instructional email from the graduate student researcher on how to access the on-line survey via a specified Survey Monkey link. No identifying information was included in the survey and responses were submitted anonymously. Completed survey data was exported and summarized as group data. RESULTS: Respondents included 11 males, 3 females, and 1 student who identified as other. Students ranged in age from 18 - 25+ years. Participants identified the following perceived strengths in the postsecondary setting: attention to detail (n=15), intense interest in their area of study (n=14), and the ability to solve problems (n=13) and use technology (n=13). Several reported staying on task (n=10) and time management (n=10) as areas of difficulty. Non- academic areas perceived as moderate to high areas of concern included feeling lonely, isolated, and quality of sleep. Overall, the most significant postsecondary concerns were academics, sensory activities, mental health challenges, social requirements, and activities of daily living. Students were asked to rate services and supports provided through ODS. Flexibility with exams (e.g., due dates, alternate room, computer use) and consultation with a disability officer were rated as helpful but were reportedly used by less than half the respondents. The most common reason for not using a support was that it was not needed, or they did not know how to ask for it. CONCLUSION: Obtaining a first-person perspective of students' academic and non-academic experiences, supports, and needs may provide postsecondary personnel with the information needed to develop and promote accommodations and supports for students with ASD. This may also help to improve retention and graduate rates for students on the autism spectrum.
3rd place award winner in the poster presentations at the 17th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held online, Wichita State University, April 2, 2021.
Research completed in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Health Professions