Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Autism and higher education

How can we improve quality of life and study success in young, high-functioning adults with autism?

2013  -   2018
Renée Dijkhuis
Scientific Board Stumass Scientific Board Stumass

Wouter Staal (RU - Nijmegen / Karakter)

Young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) encounter serious problems in several areas of self-control, including stress regulation, functioning social communications and executive. This threatens their development at the level of individual and social functioning and (in)directly affects their quality of life.

Self-regulation involves influencing cognitive, emotional and motivational processes and the regulation of behavior. Self-regulation plays a significant role, for example,  in the development of social competence. Social competence is important for functioning independently in complex social situations. During adolescence, dynamic developments are taking place in brain areas related to cognitive functions that form the basis of social competence. High-functioning adults with ASD often have poor social skills, but do show a need for social contact. Their level of education (college or university education) requires  that these students can: work together and independently, take initiative, plan and organize. These skills are all driven by an individual’s executive functioning. The development of executive functions enables people to better regulate  their own behaviors. Therefore, teaching strategies to improve self-regulation is of paramount importance to help minimize the impact of autism on individual development and to increase the quality of life in ASD.

The aim of the present study is to identify the underlying mechanisms of self-control, and the cognitive and affective mechanisms that need to be improved for improved self-control in young adults with ASD. The factors we are interested in, are: executive functions, (social) cognition, affective functioning, psychophysiological activity, psychiatric symptoms, information processing and perception. We also examine the extent to which these factors affect academic achievement and quality of life.

Read this research 'Self-regulation and quality of life in high-functioning young adults with autism' (pdf)

Connection with other research

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