Search This Blog

Friday, August 7, 2015

Autism and Higher Education

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the increasing numbers of people on the spectrum who are going to college.  Ru Ying Cai and  Amanda L. Richdale have an article in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders titled "Educational Experiences and Needs of Higher Education Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder." The abstract:
Little research directly examines the needs of post-secondary students with ASD. The experiences and support needs of 23 students with ASD enrolled in two [Australian] universities and four colleges, and 15 family members were explored in 15 semi-structured focus groups. Thematic analysis identified five themes: core ASD features, co-morbid conditions, transition, disclosure, and services and support. Most students felt educationally but not socially supported; most families felt support was poor in both areas. Transition from secondary school was often unplanned, and disclosure of diagnosis usually occurred after enrollment, often following a significant problem. Many parents provided substantial student support. Thus disclosure of ASD diagnosis and meeting the individual needs of these students are important considerations as higher education enrollments increase.
From the article:
Similar to Shattuck et al. (2012), majority of our students still lived at home with continued family support. When the student had not disclosed, or given explicit, written permission for their parent to advocate for them, [Australian] privacy laws affected communication between parents and higher education staff when the student was 18 years or older. In some cases, this led to negative consequences for the student; a collaborative approach between staff and parents was often crucial in supporting the student and increasing the likelihood of their success. Thus, where a student still relies substantially on a parent or significant other for support, it is important that the student gives written permission for this person to advocate and communicate directly with disability support staff. Awareness of the potential benefits of a collaborative approach that includes families and higher education staff is important and formal processes that will facilitate such cooperation are desirable.
Shattuck, P. T., Narendorf, S. C., Cooper, B., Sterzing, P. R., Wagner, M., & Taylor, J. L. (2012). Postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder.Pediatrics, 129(6), 1042–1049.