Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #49
College Students with Autism: The Next Educational Frontier
Saturday, May 23, 2015
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Grand Ballroom C2 (CC)
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Glen L. McCuller (Stephen F. Austin State University)
Discussant: Timothy A. Slocum (Utah State University)
Abstract: Given the rapidly increasing number of individuals with autism, educational institutions must adapt to serve this population (CDC, 2014). In particular, colleges and universities face new challenges as the numbers of students in the higher functioning or Asperger's category of autism enter the college experience. These students find college difficult and no longer have access to the same level of accommodations provided in K-12 education. College students with autism experience problems such as: difficulty following social conventions; talking at length about topics of personal interest; difficulty using and understanding nonverbal communication; overly literal understanding of language; difficulty understanding idioms, sarcasm, and humor; and overly rigid adherence to rules or difficulty tolerating rule violation by others (Adreon & Durocher, 2007). Any of these characteristics make classroom participation difficult and decrease acceptance by classmates and instructors. Further exacerbating the problem is that many individuals with disabilities will not identify as having a problem until their difficulty has caused irreparable harm to their semester grades, or even their chances for completing a degree (Janiga & Costenbader, 2002). Professors and instructors in higher education rarely have training in disability. Most cannot recognize the specific characteristics of individuals with autism and do not know how to accommodate these individuals. These students are sometimes identified as having conduct problems. This symposium includes presentations on the theoretical approaches that guide the response of colleges and universities to student conduct problems and how what we know about effective autism interventions can be incorporated into the higher education response to educating students with autism.
Keyword(s): accommodations, autism, college, higher education
Supporting College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Programatic and Theoretical Conflicts
MICHAEL WALKER (Stephen F. Austin State University)
Abstract: Student affairs programs in higher education are tasked with enhancing student development , particularly within the first year of college. Many initiatives within student affairs are framed by models of development such as Scholossberg’s Transition Theory and Chickering’s Theory of Identity Development which assume neurotypical development. Students on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exhibit a number of behaviors that are inconsistent with these neurotypical developmental theories and present a number of challenges to university program and support. This paper examines the inherent conflicts created by approaching student services from these models with students with ASD and how behavioral adaptations should be considered when developing both academic and co-curricular activities for students with ASD. Strategies for addressing resistance from student affairs professionals in adopting behavior analytic approaches with regard to programing will be addressed. A framework for examining aspects of general developmental theories from a behavior analytical perspective will be discussed to assist in framing recommendations for change in terms that student affairs professional can embrace.
Autism in the College Classroom: Applying What We Know
GINGER KELSO (Stephen F. Austin State University), Glen L. McCuller (Stephen F. Austin State University)
Abstract: As we tackle the challenge of successfully educating students with autism in higher education, we are not without resources. A large body of research exists on effective interventions for children and adults with autism. Organizations such as the National Autism Center and the Association for Science in Autism Treatment have conducted evidence-based reviews of many interventions intended to improve the behavior and skills of individuals with autism. However, these interventions have yet to be applied in a college environment. In recognition of the need for intervention in colleges, researchers in the field of behavior analysis have gone as far as describing and recommending needed supports for college students with autism based on the current research (VanBergeijk, Klin & Volkmar, 2008). Additionally, several universities are beginning to offer fee-based packages of supports and services for individuals with autism. However, little research is available on which types of supports or interventions can effectively improve classroom conduct at the college level. Students with autism in the college classroom often demonstrate problem behaviors that are reported as violations of codes of conduct. These can include disrupting classes by asking too many questions or making inappropriate statements, inappropriate social interactions with peers, or failure to comply with emergency procedures (e.g. fire drills) (Wolf, Brown & Bork, 2009). This presentation will include a review of likely behavioral problems in the classroom, suggested evidence-based behavioral interventions, and a discussion of the potential barriers to implementing these interventions in a college classroom.



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