Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




James Crosby


Autistic students often face stigmatization surrounding their autism diagnosis, especially in academia, which can cause depression, lower self-esteem, or suicidal ideation and lead to lower academic success. The problem of insufficient research-based effective practices to guide support services for autistic students in their post-secondary education was addressed in this study. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand the degree to which neurodiversity-based methodologies are utilized in special education post-secondary support services. The diffusion of innovation framework was used to explore perceptions of 19 staff members who worked in academic support services. The research questions were focused on the current levels of implementation of the conceptual model of neurodiversity and the support personnels’ perceptions on the benefits of neurodiversity for autistic students in post-secondary education. A two-step research process that included a short answer survey followed by an online interview was implemented. Findings from the thematic analysis of data were synthesized in five themes, which indicated that participants had knowledge of neurodiversity and reported an ongoing, concerted effort to broaden their knowledge base. Several participants had sought to determine if neurodiversity would build on supports currently in place. The study contributes to social change through evidence-based findings that could help professionals estimate instructors’ potential acceptance or resistance of the principles of neurodiversity as well as emphasizing the role of this model in supporting autistic students.

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