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Peer Mentoring to Prepare High School Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder for College

  • Ashleigh HillierEmail author
  • Joseph Ryan
  • Shawn M. Donnelly
  • Abigail Buckingham
ORIGINAL PAPER
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Abstract

Objectives

Preparing high school students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for college life is key to a successful transition. This exploratory study evaluated the effectiveness of a college preparation mentoring program in improving students’ understanding and preparedness for college, motivation to attend college, and confidence.

Methods

Participants (n = 47) met weekly with a university student who served as a peer mentor. The 6-week curriculum covered topics including application process, campus supports, time management, and socializing. The program was evaluated using a mixed-methods approach including a customized questionnaire and parent interviews.

Results

Quantitative responses on the pre-post questionnaire indicated participants improved their understanding of what to expect at college, their knowledge of how things work, accessing support services, and lecture styles. Participants continued to report feeling worried about attending college. Qualitative analysis of open-ended questions and interviews with parents supported positive outcomes for participants. Social validity was also indicated.

Conclusions

Peer mentoring may be an effective strategy for improving understanding, preparedness, and motivation regarding transitioning to college for those with ASD.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Peer mentoring Secondary education 

Notes

Author Contributions

AH conceived of, designed and executed the study, conducted the data analyses, and collaborated in writing the paper. JR helped coordinate the program, collect data, and collaborated in writing the paper. SD helped coordinate the program and collect data. AB collaborated in writing and editing the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Statement

Ethics approval was provided by the Institutional Review Board of University of Massachusetts Lowell. Participants aged 18 years or older provided written informed consent and those under 18 years provided their assent to participate.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA

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