Increasing Social Integration for College Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Abstract

Increasing numbers of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are entering postsecondary education; however, many report feeling lonely and isolated. These difficulties with socialization have been found to impact students’ academic success, involvement within the university, and overall well-being. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess, within the context of a multiple-baseline across participant design, whether a structured social planning intervention would increase social integration for college students with ASD. The intervention consisted of weekly meetings to plan social activities around the student with ASD’s interests, improve organizational skills, and target specific social skills. Additionally, each participant had a peer mentor for support during the social activities. The results showed that following intervention, all participants increased their number of community-based social events, extracurricular activities, and peer interactions. Furthermore, participants improved in their academic performance and satisfaction with their college experience. Results are discussed in regards to developing specialized programs to assist college students with ASD.

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