Authors: Dente, Claire L.

Coles, Kallie Parkinson

Source: Children & Schools, Jan2012, Vol. 34 Issue 1, p27-36, 10p

This article presents a compelling case for the increased role of social workers in work with individuals with autism and Asperger’s syndrome in secondary school settings, specifically in transition planning for postsecondary educational pursuits. Social work education prepares social workers to address micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice while utilizing the ecological perspective. Students with autism and Asperger’s syndrome transitioning from high school to college have unique needs that require the specialized training and assistance social workers can provide. This article calls for school social workers to play an integral role in transition planning to assist students with skills and resource acquisitions. It outlines the changing expectations that high school students face in college; discusses characteristics and unique challenges for students with autism; identifies changing legal protections, resources, and roles of college students; highlights academic and social demands of college; and discusses transition preparation and interventions needed. Concepts from ecological systems theory (social environment, person-in-environment, transactions, energy, input, output, interface, adaptations, coping, and interdependence) are linked to potential social work interventions to identify ways that ecological approaches can inform social work advocacy on behalf of students.” [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]



The authors propose that there is an increased need for support of individuals with Asperger’s as they transition from the high school environment to the college environment. Social Workers are a uniquely qualified group of individuals to assist in helping individuals with Asperger’s through many different elements of the college experience including communication, socialization, living environment, schedule, and learning the rules of the college environment. The article does a good job to review the need for ongoing support of individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome as they increasingly desire to attend college.


Individuals with Asperger’s need support beyond the high school environment. The authors contrast the specific differences between high school and college environment. The addresses that research is limited when considering support for this population at the college level. The article references that the literature is rich at primary and secondary levels of school but almost non-existent at the collegiate level. Thus, the weakness of this article represents a weakness of this area of research as a whole.


College transition is more difficult for individuals with Asperger’s than “traditional” college students. There is an increased need for individuals who can help this group function effectively in the college environment. The utilization of professionals with additional training and understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome will help these individuals successfully transition to college and be successful at college.


Dente, C. (2012). Ecological Approaches to Transition Planning for Students with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Children & Schools,34(1), 27-36.