Challenges and Strengths of College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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Virginia Tech

Emerging adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often encounter difficulties within the university setting. Despite an increase in the number of students with ASD enrolled in postsecondary educational institutions, there are few reports on the social, academic, and/or other needs of college students with ASD. The purpose of this study was to assess the perspectives of parents of emerging adults with ASD and ADHD, in order to inform efforts to address the poor postsecondary outcomes of students with ASD. Survey data were collected from parents who had a son or daughter in one of three educational placement groups (parents of high school students, parents of postsecondary students, and parents of individuals aged 18-25 not enrolled in education) among two disorders; ASD and ADHD. Participants were recruited nationally to participate in an online survey. Parents of emerging adults with ASD identified social interactions and daily living as primary difficulties for their son or daughter with ASD. Significant differences emerged with respect to difficulties among emerging adults with ADHD, who identified difficulties related to executive functioning and attention. Social interaction training was an identified needed service by parents of emerging adults with ASD. Additionally, independent living training was a common core service requested by parents of individuals with ASD and parents of individuals with ADHD. Results suggest that the postsecondary profile of parent-reported difficulties and needed services remains distinct for the diagnostic groups ASD and ADHD. These difficulties should be considered within the context of intervention for postsecondary students with ASD and ADHD.

transition, postsecondary, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder