Self-Determination in College Success with Aspergers

Several break-out sessions of the annual Autism Society conference in Indianapolis, Indiana were focused on the support of students with ASD in higher education.

Beautiful female graduate

Dena Gassner (Adelphi University), Dr. Lorna Timmerman (Ball State University), and Jackie Clark and Rebecca Hansen (Marshall University) carried out a panel discussion on the topic, titled “Is College for Me.” Panel members discussed challenges related to success for students with ASD in higher education, and best-practice support strategies that can help overcome challenges.

Dr. Timmerman discussed at length the importance of self-determination in achieving success in college.

According to the presenter, self-determination “ranks as the #1 trait essential to college success for students making the transition to college.” The challenges, as Dr. Timmerman points out, is that “many students with ASD are weak in self-determination skills.”

In an article about self-determination from 1998, scholars describe self-determination as “a combination of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior. An understanding of one’s strengths and limitations together with a belief in oneself as capable and effective are essential to self-determination.”

According to Dr. Timmerman, four components of self-determination exist:

  1. behavioral autonomy
  2. self-regulation
  3. self-realization
  4. psychological empowerment

Dr. Timmerman suggests that to develop the self-determination skills necessary for college, high school students should:

  • Learn to become more independent, especially in regard to making their own decisions.
  • Understand how to regulate their behavior in difficult situations, deal with stressors, and plan ahead by setting and attaining goals.
  • Know their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and preferences; understand how autism affects their learning and day-to-day living.
  • Have confidence in their abilities to be successful and meet goals.

by Marc Ellison

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Marc Ellison, Ed.D. is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and an approved Licensed Professional supervisor (ALPS) who has worked nearly 30 years to provide person-centered support, services and advocacy to individuals who live with autism spectrum disorders, their families and those who support them. He has supported individuals with ASD throughout their lifespan, as they moved to the community from state-supported institutions, searched for and obtained employment, entered into relationships, and transitioned into college. Dr. Ellison is the Executive Director of the West Virginia Autism Training Center, and a part-time professor at Marshall University.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “Self-Determination in College Success with Aspergers

  1. I wish more could be done to support and nurture students with Aspergers at public universities. My daughter attempted two semesters at Ball State University and found the experience to be demoralizing and discouraging.

  2. Heya are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get
    started and set up my own. Do you need any coding expertise to make your
    own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

    • Yes we use a WordPress Platform for Aspergers101. Recently we upgraded to the “Get Noticed” theme which is also a wordpress product. It’s working well for us. Good luck!