Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-15-2017


This comparative case study investigated the college experiences of twice-exceptional college students identified as gifted and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (GTASD). Increasing numbers of students with ASD are entering universities (NCES, 2008; Shattuck et al., 2012) making the identification of supports for their academic success imperative. However, little is known about their college experiences and their challenges in transitioning to higher education settings. This study examined the college experience from the perspective of the GTASD college student. Based on ecological systems theory, five cases were designed that included ten participants. Each of the five cases contained one GTASD college student and their respective advocate. Data was collected from multiple sources (twenty-five interviews of students and advocates, student generated photographs, and an online demographic and educational experiences surveys) and analyzed from a grounded theory perspective. Findings from this study indicated that accurate diagnosis of autism and early identification of giftedness is needed to determine individual differences and provide the social and emotional skills necessary for the successful college experiences of the GTASD college student. Information learned from this study may directly help students, inform support systems (counselors, parents or guardians, college personnel), improve transitional services, and highlight relevant counseling needs.


Gifted, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Counseling, Higher Education, College

Document Type




Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Individual, Family, and Community Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Deborah Rifenbary, Ed.D.

Second Committee Member

Loretta A Serna, PhD

Third Committee Member

Kristopher M. Goodrich, PhD

Fourth Committee Member

Donald L Thompson, Ed.D.

Included in

Education Commons