Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Policy, Planning, and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Dr. Orkideh Mohajeri

Committee Member

Dr. David Thomas

Committee Member

Dr. Whitney Katirai


The purpose of this study was to examine the employment experiences of autistic college graduates, capturing the positive stories of successful alumni in terms of career placement and success. Utilizing qualitative narrative research, the study uncovered the nuanced journey of participants transitioning from completion of their undergraduate degree into the workforce. Drawing upon the frameworks of Self-Determination Theory and Self-Efficacy Theory, the research focused on the motivational mechanisms driving career achievements among autistic individuals. Methodologically, this study involved in-depth interviews with a total of 7 autistic college graduates across a range of ages, genders, and sexual orientations. These interviews allowed for the exploration of themes related to career decision-making, post-graduate stress, and financial planning. Key findings included participants navigating uncertainty in career decision-making and demonstrating adaptability and perseverance in overcoming post-graduate stress. Additionally, participants managed the financial burden of student loans through proactive financial planning. These themes underscored the resilience, determination, and resourcefulness of autistic college graduates in the face of employment challenges. The findings of this study offer recommendations for educational institutions and college career services to better tailor their programs and services to meet the unique needs of autistic individuals. By highlighting the pivotal role of mentorship, integrated Autism support, adaptability, and resilience, the study provides valuable insights for supporting the success of autistic individuals in the professional world.