A qualitative inquiry into the two-year college experiences of students with autism spectrum disorder
Anderson, James Michael
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Due to the limited availability of research involving postsecondary students with autism spectrum disorder and the anticipated increase in the number of these students enrolling in the postsecondary setting, there is an urgent need for additional research on their college experiences. This qualitative study reflects the perspectives of a group of postsecondary students with autism spectrum disorder. Two data collection methods, semi-structured interviews and photo elicitation, employed to provide an understanding of how these students perceive their college experiences and how the triad deficits (communication, social interaction, and repetitive or circumscribed behaviors) influenced each of the participants’ postsecondary experiences. Six themes and three additional findings emerged to illustrate the shared experiences of the participants. The discovered themes were 1) importance of the academic environment, 2) favorable college experiences, 3) relationship formation and social interaction, 4) co-curricular activities, 5) communication with faculty and staff, and 6) college attendance and institution selection. The additional findings were faculty and staff training, specialized programs, and literal thinking.