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Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities Facing Students on the Autism Spectrum at UCLA : The Intersection of Autism, Ethnicity/Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation

  • Author(s): Juarez, Joseph Lewis
  • Advisor(s): Kasari, Connie L
  • et al.

Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) students are the highest growing demographic of people with disabilities on college campuses and the rate is expected to continue to rise at a fast pace (Pinder-Amaker, 2013). Among the groups within the Autism Spectrum at a particular disadvantage are the ASCs students of Color who are disadvantaged by normativities including heteronormativity of gender and sexual orientation as well as other socially constructed inequities along with how they are mutually constitutive. Once these students arrive to the college scene, gaps of disparity begin to develop between Neurotypicals and ASCs in universities and within college classrooms (Gobbo, 2014). Those disparities amplify in their college lives as their academic, social, extracurricular, and material needs are neglected or not adequately addressed. Material needs are the basis from which one sustains themselves in higher education in order to achieve the end of attaining their respective degrees. Such material needs are not only monetary but include access to other resources to meet their individual goals. In general, individuals on the Autism Spectrum face an array of difficulties navigating the complexities of college student life (Well et al. 2014). This project is a qualitative study to assess challenges regarding the intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) of autism with other social identities in relation to social demographics of UCLA students on the Autism Spectrum. My approach was conducting personal interviews to find out what is getting in the way of improving the ACSs college experience and to make it more conducive for this population to enjoy student life and create safer campus spaces (Renn, 2000) for themselves.

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