Degree Name





Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Carol Ward

First Faculty Reader

Elizabeth Cutrer-Parraga

Honors Coordinator

Michael Cope


race, disability, gender, disproportionality, identity, autism


Autism research focuses on the externalized behaviors usually associated with the male phenotype of autism with little representation of the internalized behaviors associated with the female phenotype of autism. Even more so, there is little research involving later diagnosed autistic women — especially women of color. Beyond this, non-white individuals have been marginalized within the sphere of education, and their marginalization is exacerbated by an autism diagnosis.

In the realm of schooling, the relationship between race, gender, and disability lacks investigation. In this exploratory study, I draw upon qualitative data from interviews of 17 racially diverse autistic women ages ranging from 18-52. In these interviews, I investigate the questions (1) “What are the behaviors, attitudes during and towards schooling, and self-perceptions of late-diagnosed women with autism across different racial demographics?” and (2) “How do these attitudes and behaviors correlate to their GPAs?”

Since the current literature addresses the issues that autistic individuals have with camouflaging their autistic traits because of the toll it takes on their mental state, this can be further analyzed in a school setting. This daily environment forces autistic individuals to exercise their camouflaging abilities while experiencing many changes and social interactions. I conducted a thematic analysis of the experiences of these women and compared their experiences to their past and/or current GPAs. These interviews have exposed a pattern that autistic women are consistently not believed and lack the resources they need to succeed in a formal classroom setting and school environment. In this study, women with disability and racial and ethnic minority status have had the opportunity to add their own voices to the research conversations they have historically been left out of.