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A Comparison of the Social Communication and Self-Advocacy Skills of Post-Secondary Students with and without Autism
Donahue, Cristina
Eastridge, Kaylee
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
conference poster


Collected for Auraria Institutional Repository by the Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Matthew Mariner.
General Note:
Faculty mentor: Seeva Priya Santhanam
General Note:
Major: Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

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Auraria Institutional Repository
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Auraria Library
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A Comparison of Self Advocacy and Social Communication in Post Secondary Students With and Without Autism Cristina Donahue, B.A., Kaylee Eastridge , B.A., Siva priya Santhanam , Ph.D., CCC SLP Department of Speech , Language, Hearing Sciences INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND AIM & METHODS DISCUSSION RESULTS REFERENCES ABSTRACT FUNDING SOURCE Undergraduate Research Program Student Mini Grant Award, 2019 In order to succeed in a postsecondary environment, students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) must utilize social communication and self advocacy skills. The aim of this study is to gain understanding of these skills among university students. We are currently conducting a survey study with students with and without autism on their self advocacy and social communication skills. Collected data will be analyzed statistically to discover trends relating to students with ASD, neurotypical students, and those with a diagnosis other than ASD. Preliminary results indicate no differences between all three groups of participants. Ultimately , these results will help broaden the perspectives of postsecondary institutions, and provide clinical recommendations for clinicians who support students with ASD. Preliminary findings indicate no differences in either social communication or self advocacy among participants in all three groups. These preliminary findings need to be interpreted with caution for a few reasons: 1. We do not have equal groups to complete a statistical analyses comparing all three groups. 2. Ratings are based on self reports. It is likely that parents/professors might rate students differently. 3. Data collection is still ongoing. Clinical implications However, based on these preliminary results, we derive several clinical implications: 1. Clinicians have to bear in mind that autism is a spectrum. Therefore, treatment goals need to challenges. 2. Clinicians must obtain client input before making a decision on treatment goals. 3. As indicated in these preliminary findings, post secondary students, irrespective of their diagnostic status, have similar experiences and similar challenges. Therefore, peer interactions and peer mentoring should strengths. The purpose of this study was to understand how students on the autism spectrum differ from their peers in their social communication and self advocacy skills. The study aims at answering the following research questions: (1) Do college students on the autism spectrum differ in their self advocacy skills from their neurotypical peers and their peers with other disabilities? (2) Do college students on the autism spectrum differ in their social communication skills from their neurotypical peers and their peers with other disabilities? (3) What factors contribute to increased self advocacy and greater social communication in some students? The study adopts a survey design. Participants include: Any student enrolled in a 4 year university/college. The student is 18 years or older. The student can read at college level and provide consent for participation in the study. Questionnaire measures used in the study include: ( 1) A demographic questionnaire ( 2) The Self Advocacy Q uestionnaire ( Kosine , 2006), is a 22 item scale with questions that asks students to comment on their use of self advocacy in classrooms and within the university campus. ( 3) The Social Responsiveness Scale 2nd edition (SRS 2) (Constantino, 2012) is a 65 item questionnaire that identifies social impairment associated with individuals with ASD and helps identify severity of social and communication impairment. One in 54 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (CDC, 2020) Individuals with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have: (1) Challenges in social communication (2) Presence of restricted interests or repetitive behaviors In recent years, adults on the autism spectrum have been pursuing higher education in greater numbers. However, in comparison to neurotypical individuals and individuals with intellectual and learning disabilities, students on the autism spectrum have been found to graduate at much lower rates less than 40% (Gotham et al., 2015 ). Factors that contribute to challenges In order to be successful in a post secondary environment, students need to rely on: Successful graduation and retention of students on the autism spectrum in post secondary settings can be achieved through: (1) Specialized supports beyond the accommodations they receive from the Access Center. (2) Increased knowledge and understanding of autism among university personnel These specialized supports must focus on a variety of skills including but not limited to: Social communication Self advocacy Executive functioning College level reading and writing Career and job readiness Autism is a spectrum, and students on the autism spectrum share their strengths and challenges with both their neurotypical peers and peers with a diagnosis other than ASD. Little is know regarding of students on the autism spectrum compare with their peers on the aforementioned skills. Constantino , J.N. & Gruber, C.P. (2012). Social Responsiveness Scale Second Edition (SRS 2). Torrance, CA: Western Psychological Services. Lipkin , P. H. (2015). Characterizing the daily life, needs and priorities of adults with autism spectrum disorder from Interactive Autism Network data . Autism, 19(7), 794 804. Kosine , N. (2006). Self advocacy, metacognition, and transition in college freshmen with learning disabilities (Doctoral Dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3227626). Murray, C., Lombardi, A., & Kosty , D. (2014). Profiling adjustment among postsecondary students with disabilities: A person centered approach. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education 7(1) 31 44. Stodden , R. A., Conway, M. A., & Chang, K. B. T. (2003). Findings from the study of transition, technology and postsecondary supports for youth with disabilities: Implications for secondary school educators. Journal of Special Education Technology, 18(4) 29 44. Siva priya Santhanam Email: Kaylee Eastridge Email : Cristina Donahue Email : CONTACT Please consider taking the survey through this link if you are a student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Internal Factors External Factors Poor adjustment to novel environments Limited self regulation Limited skills in planning, organization, and time management Challenges in social and communication skills Reduced structure in the university environment Limited understanding of autism and neurodiversity among faculty and staff Lack of specialized supports at the university 9 th Annual MSU Denver Undergraduate Research Conference, Metropolitan State University of Denver, April 2020 Number of participants = 55 27 ( Neurotypical ); 24 (Diagnosis other than ASD); 4 (Diagnosis of ASD) Gender 15 (Male); 34 (Female); 5 (Non Binary); 1 (unknown) Age range 18 55 Primary Language 50 (English); 4 (Spanish); 1 (Unknown) Students represented a variety of majors. 48 students were undergraduates; 5 were graduates, and 2 were completing certificates. Data collection is ongoing. 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 Self advocacy scores Number of students Self advocacy ratings of students Students on the autism spectrum