Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) participation among college students with an autism spectrum disorder

J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Jul;43(7):1539-46. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1700-z.


Little research has examined the popular belief that individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely than the general population to gravitate toward science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This study analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2, a nationally representative sample of students with an ASD in special education. Findings suggest that students with an ASD had the highest STEM participation rates although their college enrollment rate was the third lowest among 11 disability categories and students in the general population. Disproportionate postsecondary enrollment and STEM participation by gender, family income, and mental functioning skills were found for young adults with an ASD. Educational policy implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Career Choice*
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / diagnosis*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Education, Special
  • Engineering*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Science*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Technology*
  • United States
  • Young Adult