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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Limited Literature on Postsecondary Education of Autistic Students

As a result of this inquiry, many of the gaps in the literature have been exposed. For example, what we have learned about parent participation in the postsecondary education of their students with ASD is very limited, even though parents are important stakeholders and invest significant financial resources in the education of their students with ASD. Serious challenges of individuals with ASD such as communication (four studies) vocational needs (six studies), and transition (three studies) are not fully addressed by the research.
Although Autism is a communication disorder and parents in the Elias and White (2017) study regarded speech/language services as a need, there are no studies that specifically examined the provision of those services to students with ASD. The question remains why so few communication supports were implemented or addressed by researchers given the nature of ASD. For those with ASD who have experienced atypical development and delay of speech, the need for communication services is real. Odd prosody and/or dysfluency can be a lifelong impairment which may prove to be a barrier to employment and community integration after school is over. Effective verbal communication affects outcomes not just in terms of navigating through college life, but in terms of postgraduate life. 
Students with ASD attend postsecondary schools to increase the probability they will become employed, but only six studies addressed vocational needs. Given the importance of postsecondary education as a path to employment (Ohl et al. 2017; Shattuck et al. 2012), there is a gap in interventions designed to ensure that students with ASD have acquired the skills needed to obtain employment once the degree is completed. For example, preparing individuals with the vocational skills such as writing a resume, practicing job interviews, understanding the soft skills requisite to be successful on the job, and providing opportunities for an internship all serve to provide students with experiences that aid in obtaining a job and successfully transition to employment.
With respect to transition, there are two periods of transition in the life of a postsecondary student with ASD: one to postsecondary education, and one from postsecondary education to employment or graduate school. There are no studies in this review that examine transition from college to employment or graduate school, but two articles reference transition to postsecondary education. Barnhill (2016) reports that 7 out of 30 universities in her study offered transition programs. Based on Brown and Coomes (2015) fndings, transition appears to be within the domain of services provided by 2-year colleges, with 42% of 2-year colleges surveyed reporting such services. 

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