Education Doctorate

Year Approved


First Advisor

Daniels, Jessica


A growing number of students with high functioning autism (HFA) are entering higher education; this number is expected to grow as the prevalence of autism continues to rise. Students with HFA face many challenges when entering higher education. These challenges produce an environment that impedes student success and potential degree completion. This study explored the lived experiences of 17 participants with HFA who were enrolled in private colleges and universities in a metropolitan area of the Midwest. Although disability services offices are mandated to provide accommodations to students with disabilities, some of the challenges faced by participants were not supported by the services provided at their institution. Social and communication challenges were common areas not fully covered through accommodations, which precluded many participants from requesting assistance from instructors when having difficulty in class. Many participants also indicated discomfort with meeting people in college and challenges establishing friendships. The prevalence of mental health disorders arose as a salient theme, with most participants experiencing significant anxiety, at times impeding some students’ ability to attend class and succeed academically. Many research opportunities exist to ascertain the best support systems needed to assist students with HFA in navigating higher education with ease. Students with HFA attending college or university need to grow, not only academically, but also by learning social and communication skills that will be instrumental in their future lives as more independent adults.

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation

Streaming Media