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


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
    • "In general, less is known regarding the effects of social support on college students with disabilities. Lack of research in this area is of particular concern as these students often feel stigmatized and, even worse, discriminated against on the basis of their disability due to lack of understanding from their peers without disabilities (Myers & Bastian, 2010; Nevill & White, 2011). This stigmatization will likely challenge the efforts of college students with disabilities in fostering supportive social networks. "

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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.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
    • "One major problem concerns the composition of the sample of participants. Examples of commonly encountered disabilities in higher education include autism, psychiatric disorders, learning disabilities, sensory deficits, and motor deficits (De Cesarei, 2015; Morris & Turnbull, 2007; Nevill & White, 2011; O'Connor, Kubiak, Espiner, & O'Brien, 2012). Each type of disability poses specific challenges related to the type and severity of the impact on the student's life, the psychological impact of the disability, and the stigma associated with it (Fevre, Robinson, Lewis, & Jones, 2013; Kuruvilla & Joseph, 1999). "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Changes in how disability is understood have determined an increase in the number of people with disabilities who study at university. Several studies have aimed to investigate the experiences of students with disabilities. However, one difficulty in these studies is that very different types of disability (e.g., reading disabilities as compared to motor disability) are grouped together under the broad label of "students with disability". Recently, the increase in access to computers and technology has made it possible to distribute questionnaires through the Internet and reach a higher number of participants; however, the use of online questionnaires for conducting research on the experiences of students with disabilities poses theoretical, methodological and ethical challenges to the researcher. Some of these issues are common to questionnaires conducted both online and offline; others, however, are typical of online studies. Here we will review these problems and their consequences in terms of research validity, along with some possible solutions that may minimize the risks of harming the privacy of participants, losing responses, and biasing data.
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