Post-secondary education experiences and needs of students with autism spectrum disorder at Wichita State University

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Her, Aleshea N.
Self, Trisha L.
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The literature reports increased enrollment of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in post-secondary education settings. Unfortunately, a significant number of these individuals do not graduate (Zeedyk, 2016). The low graduation and retention rates in the post-secondary settings have been attributed to the loss of services these students encounter upon leaving high school and encountering unfamiliar situations with unfamiliar people. Navigating a dynamic college environment can positively and negatively impact the educational experiences and outcomes of individuals on the autism spectrum (Anderson et al., 2020; Zeedyk et al., 2016). Literature reveals, however, students with ASD can experience success in the post-secondary education setting when provided appropriate supports and services (Van Bergeijk et al., 2008). This study explored the academic and non-academic experiences, needs, and supports of 15 Wichita State University Students (WSU) with ASD using a mixed method approach. An on-line survey (n = 15) and focus group sessions (n = 8), conducted simultaneously, revealed the perceived academic and non-academic experiences, needs, and supports of students with ASD at WSU from a first-person perspective. Across the on-line survey and focus group sessions, commonly identified themes included academics, self-perception, non-academic resources, social encounters, academic resources, and mental health. Both the positive and negative aspects of these themes were identified and discussed by the study participants. Attaining a first-person perspective from WSU students with ASD can reveal important information to assist with the development and promotion of appropriate accommodations, supports, and services within the post-secondary setting. Furthermore, targeting supports and services for this unique group of students may serve to improve recruitment, retention, and graduation rates for students on the autism spectrum.

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Thesis (M.A.)-- Wichita State University, College of Health Professions, Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Wichita State University
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