A nationwide survey of disability support personnel regarding transition, documentation, and services for postsecondary students with invisible disabilities




Wadlington, Charles

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The purpose of this exploratory study was to analyze the perceptions (through survey data) of Disability Support Services (DSS) personnel regarding the transition process, documentation requirements to receive services, and services for students with invisible disabilities (Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD], Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD], Learning Disability [LD], and Traumatic Brain Injury [TBI]) in postsecondary settings. Participants from 408 postsecondary institutions completed the survey with 60.4% from public and 39.5% from private institutions, and 66.8% from 4-year and 33.2% from 2-year institutions. A majority of postsecondary personnel (68%) endorsed that they never or rarely work with high schools to develop transition plans for students and 17% of participants reported rarely accepting reports from high schools to determine eligibility for disability services.

Analysis of factors contributing to acceptance rates of assessments revealed schools in the Southern region of the USA were less likely to accept reports compared to other regions. Postsecondary institutions in the West, South, and Midwest that found transition reports prepared by high schools helpful in determining eligibility were more likely to accept reports from high schools. Four-Year institutions in the Midwest and West regions were less likely to accept evaluations prepared by high schools. The predominant time period selected by respondents for a past evaluation to be considered for services was three years for all disability types: ASD (50%), ADHD (53%), LD (53%), and TBI ( 45.6%). School psychologists were perceived to be qualified to diagnosis LD (77%) and ADHD (61%) by a majority ofrespondents. However, fewer postsecondary personnel viewed school psychologists as competent to diagnosis ASD (49%) and TBI (24%). Postsecondary personnel endorsed that if a new assessment is required, the majority of those assessments are provided exclusively outside the university setting (72%), and a majority of postsecondary personnel endorsed students and parents being financially responsible for any required assessments (88%). Multiple stepwise regressions were performed to predict factors associate with the academic and social preparedness of students across each disability type (ASD, ADHD, LD, and TBI). Finally, many applications of the fmding of this research were discussed for the practice of school psychology in secondary settings.



Psychology, Education, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Disability support personnel, Learning disabilities (LD), Postsecondary, Transition services, Traumatic brain injury (TBI)