Success beyond high school: effective transition to college for students with ASD
An increased number of secondary students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) participate in postsecondary education (PSE) after graduation (Chiang, Cheung, Hickson, Xiang, & Tsai, 2012). This number is likely to grow (Adreon & Durocher, 2007; Camarena & Sarigiani, 2009; Smith, 2007), which heightens the need for adequate transition services for students with ASD entering PSE. Since students with ASD do not experience a seamless transition from high school to PSE, identifying supports specific to their needs is critical to their success in PSE (Certo et al., 2003; Roberts, 2010). The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of college students with ASD in order to determine what skills and services college students with ASD describe as being important to their success in PSE settings, and which of the identified skills were taught to them in secondary school.
A non-experimental research design was utilized through survey methodology. Twenty-two undergraduate college students with ASD enrolled in 4-year PSE institutions across the United Stated participated in this study. The findings suggested that self-determination, study skills, independent living, technology, and social communication were skills important to successful transition into PSE environments for students with ASD. The majority of participants indicated they learned the identified skills in their general education classes while in high school. The findings of this study also identified services (e.g., career exploration, access to college level classes, access to a peer mentor, and counseling) as important to success of students with ASD in PSE.
This study incorporated voices of students with ASD who had first-hand experiences with the challenges of PSE and supports needed for positive outcomes. Their voices offer pathways to enhance PSE outcomes for students with disabilities, and specifically for those with ASD. This study extends the body of literature focused on students with ASD entering PSE environments. The results of this study provide educators and other stakeholders with practical information they can use to enhance current support services for students with ASD.