Ed.D. Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


College of Education



Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.

Faculty Chair

Christopher Maddox, Ph.D.

Content Specialist

Julia Britt, Ed.D.

Content Reader

Barbara Calabro, Ph.D.


Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, high school transition


The lifelong effects of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) impact the living, employment, and social aspects for individuals with the diagnosis and their families. In this study, I sought to determine parent perspectives of school transition programs completed by their adult children with ASD. Guided by the theoretical framework from Bronfenbrenner, Freire, and Mezirow, my purpose was to identify transition practices with which parents were satisfied and dissatisfied, as well as to seek their input about improving transition programming. With the unemployment rate for individuals with ASD reported by the Department of Labor as 80%, improvement of outcomes would reduce the burden on society and families. Although there had been research about best practices in transition programs, very little information existed about outcomes. In addition, parents, who are the primary caregivers for their children with disabilities, provide insights leading to better transition programming. In this phenomenological study, 12 parents of adult children with ASD completed a survey for demographic information and then, subpopulations of the participants joined interviews and a focus group. Data were collected using Creswell’s and Moustakas’ method of coding, horizontalization, reduction, and clustering around themes from the words of the participants. Although parents were satisfied with their level of involvement in transition planning, they were dissatisfied with unrealistic goals and the limited knowledge base of district personnel about transition options. Parent participants strongly encouraged development of social skills programs, more individualized programs, community connections, and expanding transition to begin when children are younger and end when they are older. The results of this study may inform both parents and professionals to create more individualized programs that meet the needs of each student with ASD.