Perceived Effectiveness of Social Supports for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Postsecondary Student Perspectives

Griselda Wells, Walden University

Abstract

College environments can pose both academic and social challenges for students with disabilities. For teachers and parents of children with Aspergerâ??s syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism (HFA), these challenges include communication, behavioral, and social difficulties that can hinder their attainment of educational objectives. Limited research has been conducted regarding postsecondary outcomes of elementary and secondary public school interventions provided to these students. This case study gathered information from postsecondary students with AS and HFA regarding their experiences of public school social skills interventions and their perceived impact on current social and academic outcomes. Findings were interpreted using critical theory (CT) and critical disability theory (CDT) approaches, which suggested an advocacy perspective and provided the participants a â??voiceâ?? to express their lived experiences, offering an opportunity for others to learn from these experiences. Participants included a sample of 12 young adults with HFA and AS currently enrolled in postsecondary educational settings who were recruited through college/university disability services offices, school districts, and support groups. Interview data were examined in order to glean descriptions of the participantsâ?? social experiences and determine emergent social and academic themes among cases. Study findings indicated a need for improved guidance and education in the area of social skills for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and proposed avenues for positive social change by providing educators, parents, and advocates information to support the development of improved social supports and more effective outcomes for students with ASD.