Researchers investigated possible predictors of first year success for college students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
Eleven freshmen students enrolled at two universities. Each student received specialized supports for ASD at their respective colleges and participated in periodic assessments of social, emotional, and academic functioning. Investigators examined factors related to academic achievement, levels of anxiety and depression, life satisfaction, college adjustment, and social functioning.
Initial results of this ongoing investigation demonstrated:
- Adjustment to college was negatively correlated with internalizing symptoms (such as anxiety and depression, and social withdrawal). Students with higher levels of internalizing made poorer adjustments to college
- Students with higher levels of internalizing symptoms also rated themselves lower in terms of life satisfaction
- Students with higher levels of anxiety and depression at the beginning of college had lower mid-term GPAs
- Students who reported better adjustments to college had higher GPAs
Because anxiety and depression are highly correlated with a number of negative outcomes in the study (such as lower grades, life satisfaction, and social adjustment) investigators identified early “screening for and targeting symptoms of anxiety and depression through therapeutic interventions” as critical to supporting college students with ASD.
Further, investigators concluded that college students with ASD may benefit from specialized supports at the beginning of their transition into college, as students who struggle to adjust in college may experience internalizing symptoms and academic difficulty.
Lead investigators presented this information as a poster session at the 2010 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), held during the International Society for Autism Research conference in Philadelphia, PA. Information from the session may be found at this link:
by Dr. Marc Ellison