Self-Determination Measures with College Students Diagnosed with Asperger

Friday, May 18, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
10:00 AM
M. J. Boman and A. R. Amraotkar, Kelly Autism Program, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY

Currently, there are limited studies regarding students with Asperger (AS) who are attending college and self-determination (SD). According to Wehmeyer (1992), SD is “acting as the primary causal agent in one’s quality of life and making choices and decisions regarding one’s quality of life free from undue external influence or interference.” This research explores the results of an ongoing study of college students with AS to evaluate if these skills improve through the experience of attending college. Success in college can be affected significantly by how students with AS feel about themselves and their acceptance of their personal strengths and weaknesses (Palmer, 2006).


To measure and assess if college students with AS can increase their self-determination through their college experience.


The participants for this study include 8-10 students incoming freshman, who are involved with the “Kelly Autism Program Circle of Support” at Western Kentucky University. This number varies from year to year as well as from semester to semester due to the number enrolled in the program. All students met the same requirements that are needed to be accepted for college at WKU. As part of their support system/programming, each participant receives three hours of tutoring for four days a week, a mentor who supports them through various social aspects of the college experience, and a private dormitory room. Besides academic support during their study hours, the participants also receive metacognitive social training, executive functioning skill building, and study skills. The participants completed the Arc’s Self-Determination Scale (Wehmeyer & Kelchner, 1995 )at the end of each semester for the past three years to evaluate if they are learning skills which will lead them to a more productive life whereby they can make decisions for themsleves.  This study also measured other aspects that might influence the outcomes regarding ACT scores, Grade Point Average, and family support.


Although all data has not been totally analyzed at the time of the writing of this abstract, preliminary results indicate that for over 60% of the participants their self-confidence and self-awareness increased as well as their self-determination. Most felt that they had more control over various components of their lives especially when it came to their personal life as their parents/caregivers had served in this role for many years. Other correlations were assessed which impacted the outcomes for these students as well; these will be included in the poster presentation.


As college students participated in the Circle of Support Program at WKU, they rated themselves regarding self-determination. The results indicated strong positive changes as many felt that for the first time that they were in control of what occurred during their lives. They also felt that their desire to accomplish their personal and professional goals increased.

| More