Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 38

to know " how to communicate with a roommate who may not understand what they
mean " and " may not understand their tone. "
In the same way, Silas expressed the view
that it is the responsibility of residence life
staff to help educate " the other side " on how
to communicate with their roommate on the
spectrum who " may take everything literally "
and " may shut down if you speak to them in
a certain tone. "

Overall Student Experiences
This theme includes elements related to the
overall student experience on campus and
participants' drive to have a holistic, traditional campus experience despite their disability
identity. Because of the quantity of responses
and variability therein, three sub-categories
were identified to understand the student
experience theme: staff education, residence
life, and personal growth and development.
	
Staff education. The education category
relates to the expressed interest in and need
for residence life staff to have knowledge
of the uniqueness of autism diagnoses, as
well as their ability to understand common
symptoms. This category includes two dimensions: individualization and training.
Individualization focuses on the uniqueness
of each participant's experiences and needs
on the spectrum. In response to asking how
residence life staff are able to best support
students with autism, Chuck said, " Autism's
pretty broad, I feel like sometimes there are
accommodations that are made or assumptions that are made that don't necessarily apply to everyone equally in a certain scenario "
and explained the need to focus on the fact
that one student is not the same as the next.
	
Training expectations relate to the necessary knowledge held by employees working with students with ASD (e.g., resident

advisors, professional staff ) in order to best
support them throughout their college experience. Kaleb said that RAs must " have an
idea of how these people act and just how
to help these people rather than just punishing them, " meaning that RAs should be
present and educated enough to guarantee
that students are learning something from
their experiences. Training topics recommended by Kaleb, John, and Jeff could emphasize common behavioral manifestations
of students on the spectrum, the prevalence
of autism within college student demographics, and common disability resource
accommodations.
	
Residence life staff. Six participants contributed to this theme and expressed specific
expectations for residence life staff: treating
them the same as able-bodied and -minded
students and supporting them in the same
way as they would other students. Abigail
mentioned, " I do like being able to talk to my
RA when something goes wrong. " Rebecca,
too, remarked on RAs and how well positioned they are to notice patterns in residents
of the community.
. . . maybe if someone notices that someone
said they'll show up for something and
they didn't, they don't really give a reason
why and it's a pattern . . . some kids can
have a harder time adjusting and maybe
social anxiety or maybe just they aren't
sure how to adapt.
She expected that the RA would reach out
and connect with these residents. Chuck,
John, Jeff, and Silas expressed the desire to
be treated as normal. Chuck captured this
shared sentiment when he posited, " I don't
necessarily think I need special focus, I feel
like what they do for the student body in
general is good enough for me. "

Volume 47, No. 2 * 2021

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