Article

College Students' Openness Toward Autism Spectrum Disorders: Improving Peer Acceptance

Department of Psychology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.06). 02/2011; 41(12):1619-28. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1189-x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT One probable consequence of rising rates of autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in individuals without co-occurring intellectual disability is that more young adults with diagnoses or traits of ASD will attend college and require appropriate supports. This study sought to explore college students' openness to peers who demonstrate ASD-characteristic behaviors. Results showed a significant difference in openness between students who had a first-degree relative with an ASD (n = 18) and a gender-matched comparison group of students without such experience (F = 4.85, p = .035). Engineering and physical science majors did not demonstrate more overall openness. Universities should make efforts to prevent social isolation of students with ASD, such as programs to educate students about ASD and supports to ease college transition.

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Available from: Rose E A Nevill, Feb 05, 2015
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    • "This is consistent with past work suggesting that being female may be the most powerful determinant of positive attitudes towards people with disabilities, relative to factors such as age, familiarity with people with disabilities, and parental attitudes (Rosenbaum et al. 1988). However, gender differences in stigma towards autism observed in the current study contribute to a conflicted set of findings wherein females are sometimes (e.g., Campbell 2007; Chambres et al. 2008), but not always (e.g., Nevill and White 2011; Swaim and Morgan 2001), more open towards people with autism. Marginally significant associations between being enrolled in a STEM major and increased stigma might be due to the much higher proportion of men in STEM relative to ''helping professions'' majors. "
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    ABSTRACT: College students with autism may be negatively impacted by lack of understanding about autism on college campuses. Thus, we developed an online training to improve knowledge and decrease stigma associated with autism among college students. Participants (N = 365) completed a pre-test, online training, and post-test. Women reported lower stigma towards autism than men. Participation in the training was associated with decreased stigma and increased knowledge about autism. Although participants exhibited relatively high baseline knowledge of autism, misconceptions were common, particularly in open-ended responses. Participants commonly confused autism with other disorders, such as learning disabilities. This study suggests that online training may be a cost-effective way to increase college students’ understanding and acceptance of their peers with autism.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 11/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10803-015-2422-9
    • "This is consistent with past work suggesting that being female may be the most powerful determinant of positive attitudes towards people with disabilities, relative to factors such as age, familiarity with people with disabilities, and parental attitudes (Rosenbaum et al. 1988). However, gender differences in stigma towards autism observed in the current study contribute to a conflicted set of findings wherein females are sometimes (e.g., Campbell 2007; Chambres et al. 2008), but not always (e.g., Nevill and White 2011; Swaim and Morgan 2001), more open towards people with autism. Marginally significant associations between being enrolled in a STEM major and increased stigma might be due to the much higher proportion of men in STEM relative to ''helping professions'' majors. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: College students with ASD may face lack of understanding from their campus communities. While a recent closed-ended survey of campus knowledge of ASD revealed more correct than incorrect responses, participants often indicated that there is only one effective intervention for autism, that autism is caused by vaccines, and that people with autism can’t live independently (Tipton & Blacher, 2013). Although closed-ended surveys allow comparison across studies, they may scaffold appropriate responses. Qualitative coding of definitions of autism provided by middle-school children revealed largely accurate but sparse responses that often lacked reference to the core symptoms of autism, particularly restricted interests and repetitive behaviors (Campbell et al., 2011). Semi-structured interviews revealed that adults often view people with ASD as learning disabled and incapable of living independently (Huws & Jones, 2010). Using a mixed-methods approach, we examined knowledge of autism among college students, as well as potential benefits of an online training about autism. Objectives: 1) Examine open-ended definitions of autism by college students. 2) Evaluate effects of an online training on conceptions of autism. Methods: Participants were recruited for an online training about ASD primarily from a psychology subject pool. Participants (N= 171) completed a pre-test (consisting of open-ended and multiple choice questions), the training, and a post-test. Open-ended responses were coded into non-mutually exclusive categories by independent coders after they achieved reliability (greater than 80% agreement on at least 20% of the sample). Not all coding categories are reported. Results: Baseline Knowledge of ASD: What is ASD? 110 responses were coded “communication issues”, 105 “social issues”, 77 “disorder”, 57 “restricted/repetitive interests”, 51 “childish”, 38 “diversity”, 38 “cognitive issues”, 28 “brain issues” and 21 “sensory issues.” What are two challenges adults with autism face? 99 responses were coded “social”, 87 “independence”, 34 “communication”, 21 “discrimination”, 19 “other/don’t know”, and 15 “cognitive". What does the future hold for people with ASD? 47 responses were coded “other/don’t know”, 35 “treatments”, 27 “opportunities”, 19 “cure”, 4 “employment”, and 1 “college”. Changing Conceptions of ASD: What does the future hold for people with ASD? After the training, responses coded “college” (35) and “employment” (43) increased. What are three techniques for teaching people with ASD? Before the training, 48 responses were coded “visual”, 41 “structured”, and 21 “individualized” After the training, 92 responses were coded “visual”, 57 “individualized”, and 55 “structured.” Closed-ended responses suggest that the training increased understanding of DSM-5 criteria, gender and ethnic differences in diagnosis, links between giftedness and autistic traits in the general population, interest in friendship among people with ASD, and variability in desire for a cure for autism (ps < .001). Conclusions: These results suggest that college students have greater understanding of the core difficulties associated with autism than middle-school students. However, both populations conflate autism with cognitive delays and are more aware of social symptoms than restricted/repetitive interests. The online training altered conceptions of autism. As Tipton and Blacher noted (2013), more widespread knowledge about diversity in ASD may facilitate the transition into college for students with ASD.
    2014 International Meeting for Autism Research; 05/2014
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    • "Other researchers have also investigated the perceptions of ASD on college campuses. In their study on the openness (i.e., acceptance) of college students on the spectrum, Nevill and White (2011) found that those students who had a firstdegree family member with ASD to be significantly more open to their college peers with ASD. Butler and Gillis (2011) found that the behaviors associated with the disorder caused university peers of students with ASD to view them as being different, although the label of the diagnosis did not. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article provides direction for educational decision making specifically for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who have the cognitive and adaptive capabilities required to pursue postsecondary college education. The purpose is to draw attention to the available postsecondary pathways, 2- and 4-year college options, by addressing important issues for college-bound young adults with ASD. These include living supports, practical skills, social supports, and educational accommodations. Furthermore, the role of educational and faculty supports is emphasized, as this is an area that has received little research attention.
    Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities 03/2014; DOI:10.1177/1088357614525435 · 1.05 Impact Factor
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