A Virtual Toolkit for Community College Counseling Center Staff Supporting Autistic Students

Institution: University of North Carolina

Project Overview

The project aims to develop a toolkit to educate community college counseling staff about best practices for supporting autistic students. It addresses the lack of support autistic students receive from counseling services and the limited knowledge of counseling staff regarding these students' unique needs.

The project employs a qualitative research design, with data collection through semi-structured interviews from three distinct groups: autistic students currently or recently enrolled in community colleges, their caregivers, and community college counseling center staff. These interviews will explore the experiences and challenges faced by autistic students in community colleges and the current state of support provided by counseling services. The qualitative data gathered will be subjected to thematic analysis, which will then inform the content and design of the proposed virtual toolkit.

The study will commence with the development of an interview guide, created in collaboration with autistic college students and the TEACCH Autistic Advocates Committee. Following this, the team will recruit participants for interviews. The data gathered from these interviews will be transcribed and analyzed to identify key themes and insights. These findings will then guide the collaboration between Dr. LaPoint, autistic college students, and the TEACCH Autistic Advocates Committee in developing the virtual toolkit. The toolkit's content will be created with the support of the UNC Office of Digital and Lifelong Learning, ensuring it is engaging and interactive. The final stage involves finalizing the toolkit for use by community college counseling staff.

Project Mentors and Contributors

Project Advisor: Brenna Maddox, PhD
Career Mentor: Laura Klinger, PhD