Leaving the Nest: Preparing for and Supporting the Transition to College

Kourtney Bakalyar



This presentation from the 2022 Michigan Autism Conference addresses the challenges faced by students with autism and other disabilities in transitioning to postsecondary education, highlighting the importance of obtaining undergraduate degrees for higher earning potential. It discusses the increasing support programs offered by colleges and universities to help these students succeed, focusing on areas such as independent living, social skills, executive functioning, and academics. Additionally, it emphasizes the need for collaboration with families, community partners, and potential employers, and provides insights into current research conducted at the Autism Services Center at WMU.

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Most students encounter difficulties when they make the transition to postsecondary education; for students with autism and other disabilities these difficulties are barriers that can stand in their way of success (Gelbar, Smith, & Reichow, 2014). Higher wages have been repeatedly connected with obtaining an undergraduate degree. When students are not able to successfully complete their degrees, careers with higher wages are not available for them. Over the last decade, an increasing number of colleges and universities have added additional support for students with autism (Kuder & Accardo, 2018). The overall goal for these programs is to help students successfully complete their degrees. Most often these support programs address the areas of independent living, social, executive functioning, and academics to help their students succeed. This presentation will look at what is known about the barriers students with autism and other disabilities experience at the postsecondary level, the research that has been completed on strategies to help students, and the need for working with families, community partners, and potential employers will be included. This presentation will also include a discussion on the current research being completed at the Autism Services Center at WMU.

About the Speaker

Kourtney Bakalyar is the director of the Autism Services Center at Western Michigan University. She earned her doctorate in Special Education with an emphasis on autism, teacher preparation, and higher education from Western Michigan University. Kourtney focuses on supporting students as they make the transition from high school to college with the Summer Transition Program and College Exploration Camps. She enjoys continuing to support students as they progress through their high education. Additionally, Kourtney loves working with her supervisees each year and helping future-BCBAs gain knowledge and experience for working with teens and young adults with autism.

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Below is the entire open-access version of this video. It does not contain embedded questions or interactions like the CEU version of the module.


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Dr. Kourtney Bakalyar
Leaving the Nest: Preparing for and Supporting the Transition to College
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