Date of Award

Spring 4-2022

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

B.S. Ed. Special Education

Department

Special Education

First Advisor

Cynthia Stunkard

Abstract

Awareness surrounding the increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorder and Asperger syndrome has become much more widespread in recent times. Children are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum more than ever. However, the key here is the word “children.” We focus on the behavior, development, and well-being of our children for good reason.

While the oversaturated focus on children is entirely justified, this focus overshadows a minority within the autism community that deserves the same attention and recognition. This minority group consists of the adults who have gone years without a formal diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or Asperger syndrome. These are the people who have “slipped through the cracks,” who have had experiences entirely unique from their peers growing up with no clear explanation as to why that was the case. These people were unable to truly piece together their own identities, and had great difficulty finding others experiencing similar struggles.

Through my research, I aim to give individuals who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or Asperger syndrome in adulthood as opposed to childhood the validity and recognition they deserve. I have identified three main goals of my research and the creation of this project. My first goal is to add to the relatively small pool of existing research for adults in the autism community. My second goal is to bring awareness to the phenomenon of those who have “slipped through the cracks,” meaning those who were diagnosed much later in life rather than in childhood. My third and final goal is to learn about and share the experiences of real individuals who were diagnosed in adulthood as opposed to childhood.

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