Date of Defense
Date of Graduation
Autism, spectrum, overstimulation, anxiety
This study was done in effort to understand the thoughts and feelings of autistic adults relative to life transitions and resources available. We surveyed key stakeholders; specifically autistic students, but also family/caregivers of adults. Six surveys were created, each based upon different themes: camouflaging, life transitions, managing mental health, overstimulation, social communication, and family and caregiver perceptions. Our surveys were marketed on Western Michigan University’s campus and through social media and are still ongoing. Trends in the data, however, suggest that overall autistics have concerns about how their disabilities impact life in or shortly after college. Many respondents expressed they have anxiety and can be related to the fear of asking for help. The limited or lack of availability and access to the support needed for managing mental health and dealing with overstimulation is also a factor contributing to anxiety. Trends in the data on social communication suggest that autistics use camouflaging in social situations, particularly when meeting new people and didn’t find it a negative experience. However, autistics did report that they unmasked when around family and friends. Our efforts to collect and understand insights from autistic adults will be utilized to develop a functional website as a resource tool. We sincerely hope future colleges and researchers will use our data to better serve autistic adults with life transitions and to further the resources available to them.
Wagner, Ashley, "Our Voices: Getting to Know Autism - Creating an Informative Website for Autistic College Students" (2023). Honors Theses. 3696.
Honors Thesis-Open Access