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Saturday, September 7, 2019

Barriers to College Access and Success

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the growing number of college students on the spectrum

Amy L. Accardo, and colleagues have an article at The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders titled "College Access, Success and Equity for Students on the Autism Spectrum."

The abstract:
College may be considered a gateway to success, yet access to college is limited for young adults with autism. Given the research recommendations to elicit student experiences and to communicate among universities to improve college access, success, and equity, the present study examined the questions: What factors are perceived as pathways to success or barriers to success by college students on the autism spectrum? What university provided accommodations and/or support services do they prefer? Participants from four universities completed surveys and semi-structured interviews. Findings from the multi-university study suggest the need to provide transition planning and systematic non-academic social and emotional supports from the start of the college experience as well as specific training for faculty, staff, and peers.
From the article:
Across all four universities students on the autism spectrum noted parent expectations and support as key to accessing and attending college and they defined college success in both academic and non-academic terms including development of a social network. Similarly, students reported factors leading to success to include goals of employment, self-determination, and self-advocacy for needed supports, and reported barriers to success as mental health challenges (including co-occurring conditions) and non- academic stressors (such as lack of awareness of disability and faculty members). Unlike the single-university study, students in the current study identified a lack of financial resources as a barrier to success. In terms of attaining college equity through accessing accommodations and supports, fondings also align with the prior one-university findings (Accardo et al. 2018) with students again reporting extended time, copy of notes, priority registration, academic coaching, tutoring, mentorship and the writing center as top accommodations and support services, and social skills groups as one of the least preferred supports. Unlike the previous study, students in the present study were less positive about summer transition programs, likely due to differences in the programs provided across universities.