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Abstract

Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder are accessing college in increasing numbers, and within this group, there is a cohort of academically talented students who can be considered twice-exceptional, or 2e-ASD. While research about college students with ASD is increasing, there is a relative dearth of literature about 2e-ASD college students, and their secondary transition and college experiences. The current study presents the results of individual interviews that were conducted with 10 parents of 2e-ASD college students to explore their perceptions of their children’s experiences, including what things went well and what were problematic areas. Parents described clear and early expectations that the student would attend college and that college provided the student with independence and the chance to be with people who shared similar interests. They described factors that were considered during the college search including the size of the campus and distance from home, and the importance of letting the student take increased responsibility, and if necessary, make and learn from mistakes. The need to focus on executive functioning and social skills was also noted. Implications for families, secondary transition personnel, and vocational rehabilitation counselors are presented.

Plain Language Summary

Some students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) attend very competitive colleges. But there is very little published literature about their preparation and their experiences in college. We interviewed 10 parents of ASD college students who go to competitive colleges. The parents talked about things that went well and what things were difficult for their student. They had high expectations that their children would go to college. They also believed this gave their child independence and allowed them to be with people who shared similar interests. Many parents said that it was important to let their child make and learn from mistakes. They also talked about how important organization, time management, and social skills were in college. They described factors that they thought about during the college search. The information shared by these parents can help families and teachers prepare high school students with ASD for college.

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