Faculty members' perceptions of undergraduate students with autism spectrum disorder at a four-year public university

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Moran, Patricia, Ed. D.

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This study explored faculty members’ perceptions of students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at a public four-year institution of higher education. As previous researchers suggest, the number of children aged six to seventeen identified with autism spectrum disorder in public schools increased by approximately 90% between 1994 and 2006 (Zager et al., 2013). As a result, the number of students on the autism spectrum who are entering college has grown exponentially over the past few decades. Therefore, it is imperative to continue to expand our knowledge of how faculty members ensure that students with autism spectrum disorder engage in their learning, interact with the course material, and connect with fellow classmates. Although previous studies have addressed various aspects of the learning needs of students with invisible disabilities (Gunn & Delafield-Butt, 2016; Schindler & Kientz, 2013; Hewitt, 2011; Scott & Gregg, 2000; Rush, 2011; Morrison, Sansosti, & Hadley, 2009), there is a need for additional research with a specific focus on students on autism spectrum disorder. Key findings from this study examine how faculty members’ personal experiences with disability can influence their classroom environments, as well as how they overcome challenges brought about by a lack of specificity in student accommodation letters. This study lends itself to future research in understanding how disability is perceived locally (in the classroom) as well as globally (within society).


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