Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Chris R. Glass

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Alan Schwitzer


Research and discussion on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in education is longstanding, albeit almost exclusive to secondary students. Within less than ten years the number of secondary students who were receiving special education services for autism doubled, two percent of which later self-identified at 2yr and 4yr institutions upon enrollment. This phenomenological study explores the experiences of college students who have autism spectrum disorders, focusing on the social experiences that impact college persistence and retention. The following research questions were guide to this study: what are the social experiences of college students who have autism? What role(s) do various social experiences play in the persistence and retention of college students who have autism? Future research recommendations and implications for the results of this study include use among student affairs practitioners and disability services advocates to examine and challenge existing campus culture related to student engagement and involvement.


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