College students on the autism spectrum: Prevalence and associated problems

Susan W. White, Thomas H. Ollendick, Bethany C. Bray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

110 Scopus citations

Abstract

As more young people are identified with autism spectrum diagnoses without co-occurring intellectual disability (i.e. high-functioning autism spectrum disorder; HFASD), it is imperative that we begin to study the needs of this population. We sought to gain a preliminary estimate of the scope of the problem and to examine psychiatric risks associated HFASD symptoms in university students. In a large sample (n = 667), we examined prevalence of ASD in students at a single university both diagnostically and dimensionally, and surveyed students on other behavioral and psychiatric problems. Dependent upon the ascertainment method, between.7 per cent and 1.9 per cent of college students could meet criteria for HFASD. Of special interest, none of the students who were found to meet diagnostic criteria (n = 5) formally for HFASD in this study had been previously diagnosed. From a dimensional perspective, those students scoring above the clinical threshold for symptoms of autism (n = 13) self-reported more problems with social anxiety than a matched comparison group of students with lower autism severity scores. In addition, symptoms of HFASD were significantly correlated with symptoms of social anxiety, as well as depression and aggression. Findings demonstrate the importance of screening for autism-related impairment among university students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-701
Number of pages19
JournalAutism
Volume15
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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