Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 37

On-Campus Satisfaction of Students with Autism

importance of a " very supportive culture, "
where individuals in the community are
" friendly, gregarious, genial, and sociable. "
John spoke about the uniqueness of a shared
campus culture that makes individuals feel
connected to their peers, even if it is just a
silent connection.
	
Peer connections. This category was
identified because of four participants' expressed drive to find support and develop
relationships with peers. A recurring concept raised by three-quarters of the participants was the need for peer support, potentially through a student organization or a
living-learning community. Kaleb discussed
the need for peer relations and to know that
each individual is not alone:
I think maybe an idea to throw out is sort
of an organization that . . . For students
on the autism spectrum to meet with each
other and better each other and kind of
talk about their experiences and it might
be a good thing to do . . . But I think
being able to spend time with somebody
who knows what you're going through
and can empathize with you is really
a big thing because . . . you're not the
weird one.
	
Resident advisors. This theme emerged
with two distinct dimensions. The first dimension relates to the importance of RAs
who understand what autism is and how it
impacts individual interactions within the
residential community. Five participants,
including Rebecca, spoke about the need for
RAs to understand and know how to respond
to students with autism.
I think for active RA stuff, for RAs to be a
little more lenient. Not like a velvet glove
or anything, but just a little more lenient.
Because often if you socially misstep,

34

The Journal of College and University Student Housing

it kind of takes people off-guard. They don't
really know how to respond, or people read
too much into something that you say.
	
The second dimension of this category,
mentioned by four participants, was the expectation that there would be RA programming related to developing a sense of community and building relationships with peers.
When asked why he stated that he would
choose to live on campus again, Kaleb shared,
" All the events that the RAs hold . . . people can
come and talk and just sort of hang out and
do something fun together [and] I think [it] is
a really good experience to have. "

Roommates
This theme emerged based on expectations
for roommates, which were mentioned by
all seven participants. Dimensions of the
theme are finding a roommate with some
knowledge of autism or willingness to understand, assistance in communicating
with roommates, and the overall importance of a healthy, friendly relationship with
a roommate. John spoke about the need to
have a roommate who understands autism
and is willing to support their peers.
They really need to be with roommates
who understand their condition and not
only can tolerate that but can be there for
them and support them in whatever they
do. That is very, very important . . . they
may not have the courage or kind of social
ability to go to a professor's office hours or
to build relationships with their peers. So,
I think that when they come home at the
end of the day, the roommates may be all
they have.
	
Another key element of this relationship
was assistance in knowing how to best communicate with roommates. Silas shared that
it is imperative for students on the spectrum



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