Dissertation

Transition from High School to College for Students with High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Qualitative Study

As growing numbers of young adults with high-functioning autism disorder (HFASD) make the transition to college, the need for effective high school transition programs is increasing. Due to inherent deficits in social skills and executive functioning skills, individuals with HFASD face significant obstacles when making the transition from high school to postsecondary educational environments. This qualitative study chronicled and analyzed the experiences and perceptions on the transition from high school to college through the lens of 10 young adults with HFASD who received explicit social skills and executive functioning training and instruction within the high school setting. the study examines participants’ perspectives on the adequacy of such supports and investigates the gaps in transition preparation described by participants. Study findings centered on participants’ social relationships and social functioning, the management of academic responsibilities, and the use of supports and accommodations in the college setting. Some participants also reported inadequate high school instruction in social skills, executive functioning, and self-advocacy, as well as insufficient general college advisement. Results from the study support the development of integrated, high school-based transition programs that incorporate the teaching and learning of social and executive functioning skills, as well as self-advocacy skills throughout the curriculum using a variety of evidence-based practices.

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