Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Janice Seabrooks-Blackmore

Second Advisor

Dr. Kristine Webb

Rights Statement

Department Chair

Dr. David Hoppey

College Dean

Dr. Diane Hoppey


The number of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) attending postsecondary education has steadily increased in recent years. A need has been identified for campus administrators to better understand the needs of students with ASD (Becker & Palladino, 2016; Oswald, Winder-Patel, Ruder, Xing, Stahmer, & Solomon, 2017). In order to gain insight about students with ASD, research providing a foundation of understanding the unique characteristics and needs of this growing population must take place. By recognizing the need for further education and training, campus administrators may have opportunities to develop professional development trainings that could provide insight into understanding a growing population of students and their needs (Zeedyk, Tipton, & Blacher, 2016).

The purpose of this study was to explore the knowledge of self-determination within college students with ASD. Quantitative methodology was selected in order to provide an exploratory approach to provide a foundation of understanding of self-determination skills for students with ASD. This study included 53 students with ASD registered with the Disability Services Offices (DSO) attending university as well as 41 students registered with the campus DSO without a diagnosis of ASD. A modified version of the American Institute of Research (AIR) was used to measure self-determination skills with the two participant groups. Three major findings were identified from this study. Students with ASD scored much lower than students without ASD on the open-ended response portion of the survey. However, students with ASD scored higher than students without ASD in identifying resources on campus. Finally, students with ASD identified mentors as primary resources of support on campus.

The findings from this study confirms more data are needed in order for campus administrators to better understand the needs of a growing population of students. Future research could include topics of professional development for campus faculty and staff, strategic instruction on self-determination skills for students with ASD, and the impact of self-determined leadership in higher education.

Key words: autism spectrum disorders, self-determination, postsecondary education