Transition to higher education for students with autism: A systematic literature review

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50 Citations (Scopus)


This study is a systematic literature review of the experiences of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their family members in higher education, with a particular focus on transition. Systematic searches were conducted across six databases: Medline, CINAHL, ProQuest, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Informit. Published articles ( n = 11) describing the experiences of transition to higher education, from the perspectives of individuals with ASD and their family members, were reviewed. The bioecological theory model was used as a framework for examining the complex interactions between elements at the individual, microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem levels, and how they impact on the student's experience of transition to higher education. Findings showed that individuals with ASD experience challenges associated with: core and associated characteristics of ASD, self-disclosure and awareness, and mental health and wellbeing. Family members reported significant challenges associated with systemic policies, which impacted on their ability to support their family member with ASD. It is highlighted that an individual and flexible approach to transition support, and increased academic and professional staff awareness and understanding of ASD, are critical to the transition experience of students with ASD in higher education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-295
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Diversity in Higher Education
Issue number3
Early online date25 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Higher education
  • Postsecondary education
  • Transition
  • University


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