My formal educational journey at the University of Calgary was completed on November 12th, 2020 when I passed my final defence for the doctorate of education in leadership, policy, and governance in a post-secondary context. The purpose of my research was to explore how Canadian higher education leaders, faculty members, and professional staff can enhance services and outcomes for Autistic students. The study was situated within the pragmatic paradigm and employed a multilevel, sequential, mixed method design. The mixed methods approach included a total of 111 responses, namely, online questionnaires (n=74) and synchronous or asynchronous, semi-structured interviews (n=37). The sample included a total of 79 participants across four stakeholder groups: university middle level leaders (n=23), faculty members (including two who were themselves Autistic, n=16), professional staff members working with Autistic students in offices such as accessibility services, equity and inclusion services, human rights, or student advocacy (n=10), and Autistic students or individuals who had experienced university studies (n=30).
I am grateful to my talented supervisors Dr. Shelleyann Scott & Dr. Don Scott and to my family for the support, love, and wisdom that buoyed me throughout the journey. As a doctor, I continue my research journey working with Dr. Kristen Gillespie-Lynch and our 16 cross-institutional collaborators studying autism & UD Training for faculty (www.autismresearch.international). As a speaker and subject-matter-expert, I continue to provide insights into policies and practices at higher education institutions that affect Autistic students and I continue to provide Universal Design training for faculty members of colleges and universities around the world.