Transition to Higher Education for Students with Autism: Challenges and Support Needs

Maximus M. Sefotho, Charity Neejide Onyishi


Increasing pieces evidence suggest that learners with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families experience limiting challenges in their transition at different developmental and academic levels in life. It is not clear, however, what the specific challenges that limit their successful transition are, despite parents' and teachers' efforts to support them. The current study sought to investigate the factors challenging students with ASD in transitioning to higher education. The study adopted a phenomenological qualitative research design with a total of 10first-year students with ASD in higher education institutions in Nigeria. The one-on-one interview was conducted, guided by a semi-structured interview schedule. Data collected were analyzed using content analysis, through the inductive thematic procedure. The results revealed five main themes, which include: academic functioning difficulties, social difficulties, structural issues, mental health problems, and lack of resources and supports. Each major theme was discussed based on the emerging subthemes. The findings of the study suggest an increased need for academic, social, materials, and environmental supports for students with ASD who transition to higher education institutions. More supports should be put in place to help learners with autism develop personal resources that will encourage their success in higher education institutions.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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