Rebecca Hanna

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Dallas, Bryan K.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Allied Health & Communicative Disorders


Autism spectrum disorders; Youth with autism spectrum disorders--Social aspects--Education (Higher); College students with disabilities--Social aspects--Education (Higher)


The purpose of this study was to examine how social support from families, peers, campus faculty and staff, as well as student engagement in campus organizations, academics, and employment influence the postsecondary experiences and performance of college students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Aspects of college life including meeting new people, having constantly changing schedules and routines, living independently, and being responsible for finding supports may be overwhelming for students with ASD. Different levels of support and engagement as well as ability to self-advocate and adjust to campus life may influence their postsecondary experiences and academic performance. More research that focuses on college students with ASD is needed in order to better understand their unique, socially-based needs and how postsecondary institutions can best serve them and provide different types of supports to help them be successful in higher education settings. Results demonstrated that academic major had a significant impact on the students' with ASD perception of their experiences. Moreover, students with ASD had similar experiences and academic outcomes compared to students with other types of disabilities or health impairments. It was found that students with psychiatric conditions reported lower SPANE Affect Balance Scores than students with mobility and hearing impairments. As a result of the small sample size, the present study could be conducted at a national-level in order to obtain more accurate results from an increased number of students with ASD as well as students with various types of disabilities or health impairments.


Advisors: Bryan K. Dallas.||Committee members: Amanda K. McCarthy; Alecia M. Santuzzi.||Includes bibliographical references.


viii, 150 pages




Northern Illinois University

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