Date of Award

Spring 1-17-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Michael Kuchar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher Tienken, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Paul Amoroso, Ed.D.


Education, Special Education, Autism, Post-Secondary



The purpose of this study was to evaluate how the post-secondary programs in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States are supporting the needs of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and preparing them for future independence.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is on the rise. In 2000, one in 150 children were identified with autism spectrum disorder. That number rose to one in every 44 children in the United States that have been identified with autism spectrum disorder in 2010.

As these students reach the age of 21, they are no longer entitled to a free appropriate public education under IDEA but must self-advocate and hope to be found eligible for services. Statistics also show that autistic students with higher levels of education have better long-term income and are provided a greater opportunity for financial independence.

Unfortunately, out of approximately 660 colleges or universities in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, only 26 programs exist for high-functioning students on the autism spectrum. Also, due to the fact that these programs are in the early stages of implementation, they do not provide significant data to determine the effectiveness and efficacy of the programs. Therefore, as the numbers of children with ASD continue to grow, colleges and universities will need to ensure that quality post-secondary opportunities are available for these students and will provide a level of readiness to allow these students with autism to self-advocate, achieve financial stability, and interact socially in their communities.