As the number of individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) increases, the number of those individuals graduating from high school with the goal of pursuing postsecondary education also increases. For those students with ASD interested in pursuing higher education, Wei et al. (2013) found that they have a propensity to pursue STEM disciplines. The purpose of this qualitative inquiry was to explore the ways students with ASD pursuing STEM disciplines described their experiences with support before and during college. Using Schlossberg's (1984) 4S Transition Model as a framework, the researcher conducted interviews with ten students to explore the challenges they encountered, the support they received, and the strategies they implemented that helped them successfully navigate their transition into and through college. Analysis of the participants' stories revealed a variety of areas of support that were important to their transition, including (1) family support and the role of mom; (2) social support and the role of friends in overall success; (3a) academic support and the role of DSS; (3b) academic support and the role of friends; (4a) mental health support and the role of counseling; and (4b) mental health support and the role of friends. Additionally, participants described five primary strategies they used when transitioning into and through college: (1) striving for normalcy, (2) peer mentor relationships, (3) facing fear, (4) engagement, and (5) on-campus housing. The researcher concluded with a discussion of the findings, implications for practice, and recommendations for future research.
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Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
Educational Leadership and Higher Education
Educational Leadership; Higher Education Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Howell, Michelle, "College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Enrolled in STEM Disciplines and Their Experiences with Support Systems: A Qualitative Exploration" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 882.
Restricted to the UCF community until December 2024; it will then be open access.