Justice, S. (2021). University support services for students with autism spectrum disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic (Publication No. 28715555) [Doctoral dissertation, Kean University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. https://www.proquest.com/docview/2566304294
Kean University (Union, NJ); ProQuest document ID: 2566304294
Patterns of use of postsecondary support services, and their association with connection to the university and overall well-being, were investigated. This summary emphasizes academic accommodations, particularly those used during course examinations. Specific accommodations included extended time on exams, alternate exam location, and assistive technology for communication. Other services examined in the study—such as social group, counseling support, and workshops—are not addressed at length in this summary.
Postsecondary students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n=26), and a university educator, at a university in the northeastern U.S. participated. All student participants were registered with the university's office of disability resources (ODR). Demographic data including gender, age, and income level of family of origin, and other information, such as year at the university, grade point average (GPA), and residence (at family home or on-campus) were also reported. A subset (n=11) of student participants was also enrolled in a fee-based autism support program administered by the university. The educator participant was coordinator of this program.
A structured interview protocol was completed with the educator-coordinator of the autism support program. Student participants (n=23) completed all three online surveys: (a) Assessment of Present Service Use and Desired Future Services was a researcher-created survey with questions about 13 services offered by the university and services not provided at the university which students may be interested in, along with open-ended items about student perceptions; (b) the University Connectedness Scale (Stallman & Shochet, 2008), with 18 items on a 7-point scale measuring degree of belonging and degree of support; (c) the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener et al., 1985) with five items on a 7-point rating scale on perceptions of life satisfaction.
In the interview, the autism support program coordinator discussed ways that the components changed in the context of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated international health crisis, both in terms of challenges encountered and use of services, and observations of the needs of students with autism [Note: little information was relayed about use of academic accommodations specifically]. Postsecondary students with autism reported their use of academic accommodations and other university services. Extended time was used by 77% of all participants, alternate exam setting was used by 65% of all participants, and assistive technology was used by 27% of all participants. The subset of students in the fee-based autism support program used extended time at a higher rate (87%) than the students not in that program (64%); the program-enrolled students also used alternate exam setting at a higher rate (74%) than the students not in that program (55%). There was no difference in assistive technology use between these participant groups. On the University Connectedness Scale, program-enrolled students had higher scores on average on support and belonging, than students not in that program. Students not in the program reported higher scores on average on the Satisfaction with Life Scale than students enrolled in the autism support program.