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to autism society, “Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental
disability; signs typically appear in early childhood and affect a person’s
ability to communicate, and interact with others” (Autism Society). The goal of
this research is to discover how the social and academic experiences of a
college student with autism differ from a neurotypical student.  Autism affects more than 3.5 million people
in the United States. The spectrum ranges from high functioning to low
functioning, but there are many people who are somewhere in between the two.
Most of the adults with autism spectrum disorder who attend college are high
functioning. High functioning means that they can function better in society
than someone who is low functioning.

transition from high school to college can be difficult for students with
autism. That is why it may be good to start students with autism at a 2-year
community college instead of a 4-year university. Researchers have found that
most college students with autism enrolled in a 2-year community college at
some point in the postsecondary careers (81%) (Wei et., 2013). The students who
are taking science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields were
more likely to persist in a 2-year community college and were twice as likely
to transfer from a 2-year community college to a 4-year university than their
peer in the non-STEM fields (Wei et., 2013). This articles research proves that
my idea that it is better to start an autistic student at a 2-year college is
easier. It helps transition them to the college life and what the work load
will be like, while they are in a comfortable environment. Most people who
attend a 2-year college commute from their homes, so the familiar home environment
may make the transition a little bit easier.

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            College transition is hard for anyone. Trevisan and
Birmingham decided to look at the relationship between characteristics
associated with autism spectrum disorder and neurological college student’s
adjustment. Trevisan and Birmingham (2016) used the “Autism Phenotype
Questionnaire” and the “Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire” (Trevisan
& Birmingham, 2016). Trevisan and Birmingham (2016) found that higher
levels of autism spectrum disorder characteristics were associated with poorer
college adjustment. It is difficult for adults with ASD to maintain jobs,
adjust to college life, and have personal relationships.

            It is hard enough to get a job without a disability.
According to Gilson and Carter (2016) the employment outcomes for young adults
with autism or intellectual disability lag far behind those of their peers
without disabilities. To gain experience in the work force, most colleges have
internships programs available. They said that most postsecondary education
programs for students with disabilities incorporate internship experiences to
foster employment skills. There are things like job coaches in place to help
them, but Gilson and Carter say that “Job coaches may inadvertently hinder
social opportunities and independence” (Gilson & Carter, 2016). Gilson and
Carter used a multiple-probe, single-case experimental design across three
college students with autism to examine the effects of a package on task
engagement and social interactions. For all participants, interactions
increased and task engagement maintained when job coaches reduced proximity and
delivered prompts discreetly through bug-in-ear devices. The participants
considered the intervention beneficial and unobtrusive. They found that
implications for supporting employment preparation within postsecondary
education programs (Gilson & Carter, 2016).

            For example, my cousin Nick, is 21 and has had autism
spectrum disorder since he was born. He applied to go to college at Centenary University
and he got in. The summer before he went away to college, my uncle wanted him
to get a summer job so that he could gain some work experience. He applied to a
handful of places and no one was hiring him, most likely because he didn’t fit
in with the type of people they were trying to hire. Eventually he got an
interview for a landscaping business owned by a friend of my uncle. My uncle
had to prep him on his answers for the interview. If Nick wasn’t prepared
beforehand, then he wouldn’t have known what to say. Nick is on the high
functioning side of autism, but when he is in a new situation where he doesn’t
know what to expect or he hasn’t been prepared for the situation, he shuts

            Social interactions are inevitable when going to college.
Making friends and getting into romantic relationships is all a part of the
college experience.  According to Lamport
and Turner (2014) the broader autism phenotype (BAP) includes pragmatic
language difficulties, aloofness, and rigidity. There is more evidence that
shows individuals with BAP have more difficulties in their social interactions.
Intimate relationships are important in development and are very salient in
emerging adulthood, the authors examined the relation of the BAP to romantic
attachment and empathy among young adults (Lamport & Turner, 2014). Pragmatic
language difficulties were related to higher rates of avoidant attachment and
this relationship was mediated by empathy (Lamport & Turner, 2014).

way to help college students with autism spectrum disorder is therapy. Even
though they are academically capable, they may have difficulties in succeeding.
According to Pugliese and White (2014) evidence-based intervention to promote
effective problem solving may improve quality of life, as well as success and
satisfaction in college. In 2014, Pugliese and White’s “study adapted and
piloted a group-based cognitive-behavioral intervention program, Problem
Solving Skills: 101(PSS:101), to teach effective problem solving ability in
college students with ASD.” The therapists met all their integrity objectives
and there was an 83% completion rate among the participant. Pugliese and White
(2014) wrote that two of the five participants demonstrated reliable
improvement post-intervention in problem solving ability and subjective
distress. I think this study shows that it is important to make sure people
with autism are taught problem solving skills. Two of the five participants showed
improvement and I think that’s important to know. Things that may be common
sense for a neurotypical person, may not be a thought in an autistic person’s

with autism spectrum disorder are being accepted into colleges at an increasing
rate. Specifically, if they are high functioning. According to Ackles, Fields,
& Skinner (2013), even though these students have strong cognitive
abilities, impairments in social behaviors and communication may negatively
influence their ability to navigate a residential experience. “Developing peer
relationships, adjusting to shared living arrangements, managing the
organizational aspects of independent living, and coping with complex sensory
issues further complicate the residential living experience for students on the
autism spectrum” (Ackles et al., 2013). Everything is a huge sensory overload
on them. It is very stressful for some individuals with autism spectrum
disorder to adjust to a new schedule. These complications can lead to roommate
conflicts, anxiety, isolation, and student attrition (Ackles et al., 2013). This
is why it’s important to educate ourselves on disabilities, in order to
understand. The human mind is very complex, and we tend to not accept what we
don’t understand. It ends up causing problems for the people we don’t get. If
neurotypical people meet someone they know has autism, then they should read up
on it. It may mean nothing to the neurotypical person, but it might make life a
little bit easier for someone with autism.

            In conclusion, social and academic experiences for
college students with autism are difficult to navigate. There have been many
studies on autism spectrum disorder showing that the social and academic
experiences are more challenging. College is difficult for any neurotypical
student, so having a disability makes it 10 times more challenging. No matter
how intelligent people with autism spectrum disorder are, it unfortunately
still stunts them when it comes to certain aspects of their lives.

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