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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Emily Hotez: ehotez@hunter.cuny.edu; Kristen Gillespie-Lynch kgillyn@gmail.com

Author Contributions: All authors made substantial contributions to: (1) the conception or design of the work or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; (2) drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and (3) final approval of the version to be published.

All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Specific contributions: EH and CS-S collaborated on the initial development of the summer transition program, program implementation, data collection, and data coding and analysis.

EH also led the drafting of the current manuscript. RO, DD, MS, CC, JP, AM, MG, and JD contributed to program development and implementation.

This research was guided by KG-L, who developed the original idea for this study, played a guiding role in program and assessment design, and contributed very substantially to the final manuscript.

Acknowledgments: The authors would like to thank all of the participants in this study and the many volunteers who assisted in developing and implementing the summer transition program.

We would particularly like to thank Richard Nellis, Miranda Alicea, Ben Cheriyan, Annemarie Donachie, Patricia Brooks, Maria Testori, Theodora Beekman, Vincent Wong, Erica Golin, Nicholas Tricarico, Billy Pinkava, and Dennis Bublitz.

All authors were affiliated with the City University of New York as students or professors at the time this study was conducted.

Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


Research Funding:

The FAR Fund, PSC-CUNY Grant Foundation and a City University of New York Doctoral Student Research Grant to CS-S provided funding for this project (Grant No. 72105-03 06).


  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology, Multidisciplinary
  • Psychology
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • disability
  • participatory research
  • self-advocacy
  • higher education

Designing a Summer Transition Program for Incoming and Current College Students on the Autism Spectrum: A Participatory Approach

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Journal Title:

Frontiers in Psychology


Volume 9, Number FEB


, Pages 46-46

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face unique challenges transitioning from high school to college and receive insufficient support to help them navigate this transition. Through a participatory collaboration with incoming and current autistic college students, we developed, implemented, and evaluated two intensive week-long summer programs to help autistic students transition into and succeed in college. This process included: (1) developing an initial summer transition program curriculum guided by recommendations from autistic college students in our ongoing mentorship program, (2) conducting an initial feasibility assessment of the curriculum [Summer Transition Program 1 (STP1)], (3) revising our initial curriculum, guided by feedback from autistic students, to develop a curriculum manual, and (4) pilot-testing the manualized curriculum through a quasi-experimental pre-test/post-test assessment of a second summer program [Summer Transition Program 2 (STP2)]. In STP2, two autistic college students assumed a leadership role and acted as "mentors" and ten incoming and current autistic college students participated in the program as "mentees." Results from the STP2 pilot-test suggested benefits of participatory transition programming for fostering self-advocacy and social skills among mentees. Autistic and non-autistic mentors (but not mentees) described practicing advanced forms of self-advocacy, specifically leadership, through their mentorship roles. Autistic and non-autistic mentors also described shared (e.g., empathy) and unique (an intuitive understanding of autism vs. an intuitive understanding of social interaction) skills that they contributed to the program. This research provides preliminary support for the feasibility and utility of a participatory approach in which autistic college students are integral to the development and implementation of programming to help less experienced autistic students develop the self-advocacy skills they will need to succeed in college.

Copyright information:

© 2018 Hotez, Shane-Simpson, Obeid, DeNigris, Siller, Costikas, Pickens, Massa, Giannola, D'Onofrio and Gillespie-Lynch.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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