Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Kyle D. Bennett

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Norma Goonen

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Rebekah Schulze

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Autism Spectrum Disorder, Higher Education, Life Skills, Support Services

Date of Defense



The present study focuses on the experiences of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in higher education. It was important to conduct this study because of the rising numbers of students with ASD in higher education and the scant amount of research available about how to best serve them depending on their actual needs, not the perceived needs stated by experts based on research from K-12 student populations, or the perceived needs of these students stated by their parents or other service providers or faculty. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine students from a Hispanic-serving institution in the Southeast United States of America. The data gleaned from these interviews using holistic coding and the constant comparative method were used to create a case study of a resilient group of students that understand their needs in higher education, are interested in becoming more engaged with on-campus activities, and know what needs to be done to attend to these needs. They are a group of students who have goals of their own, despite what their loved ones and service providers may have to say, and they are utilizing the option available in higher education to live in student housing as a way of sharpening their life skills so they may be better prepared to live independently after graduation. The results of the study are followed by a discussion of how this information can be used in practice and what other research can be conducted to further these findings and better understand this student population.





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