Viviana Padilla

Major and Classification


Faculty Mentor

Tessa Milman, OTD, OTR/L, Department of Occupational Science and Therapy


Dornsife: Psychology

Research Gateway Project

“College is for Everyone: Factors which Promote Higher Education in Individuals with Autism”

Project Abstract

The purpose of this study was to interview counselors and teachers who work with high school students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In doing so researchers sought to determine what characteristics in these student’s academic lives during high school helped foster encouragement and preparation to pursue higher education after high school. A total of 5 participants (1 counselor and 4 teachers) were obtained through a snowball sample from the Los Angeles area. Interviews consisted of 10 questions and were conducted via phone or in a private setting which lasted no more than 45 minutes. The researcher later transcribed and coded interviews into three sections: students’ knowledge about college, resources provided for students, and challenges students experienced. Findings showed counselors and teachers implemented college knowledge to these students’ academic lives in 10th grade through an extensive detailed individual guidance system. This guidance system included teachers and counselors’ breaking down college information into a comprehensible manner as well as an active participation of the student’s postsecondary plans. Additional findings reveal this guidance extends even up until the students’ enrollment in college classes; acting as liaison between student and college disability office until the student feels fully integrated to the college campus.