Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Julie Grabanski


Autistic Disorder; Students; Young Adult


Purpose: The numbers for young adults with a disability transitioning to college are increasing yearly (U.S. Department of Education, National Center of Education Statistics, 2016). Changes and transitioning to the college context is particularly challenging for individuals with high functioning autism (HFA) (Elias & White, 2017; Wehman et al., 2014). The purpose of this scholarly project was to develop a group protocol as a resource for young adult students with HFA to transition successfully in a college setting.

Methodology: A literature review was conducted on topics relating to individuals with HFA, success and barriers to college, effective interventions for this population, and the role of OT on a college campus. There is literature to support the need for occupational therapy based programs on college campuses as occupational therapists are equipped to empower and focus holistically on individuals (Lotan & Ells, 2010).

Results: The group protocol, Putting the Pieces Together: Series I: Communication and Social Skills, was developed to enable young adult students with HFA to transition and engage in a college setting by addressing communication and social interaction skills. The Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement (CMOP-E) was used to guide the design of this group protocol for occupational therapists to use in a college setting. The protocol begins with information for the occupational therapist, including CMOP-E resources, assessments to use, operational definitions, and application. This is followed by fourteen intervention sessions. Particular features of the group protocol include the format of Cole’s Seven Steps and involvement of peer-mentors.

Conclusion: There are just under 2% of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who have an 80% college incompletion rate (HEATH Resource Center at the National Youth Transitions Center, n.d.). Through the implementation of this group protocol in vivo, it is anticipated that young adults with HFA will increase interpersonal skills and college engagement, thus resulting in a higher graduation rate and overall satisfying college experience.