This question has not been addressed directly by research, but insights from contemporary autism movements offer possibilities.The autism acceptance movement, the medical model, and Jennifer Gibson's disability identity theory are discussed in relation to autism identity development in the college years, and concrete suggestions are made for postsecondary institutions.
Of 11 disability categories, autism was in the lower third of college enrollment and graduation (Sanford, et al, 2011).
These figures show that more work is needed to achieve equitable postsecondary access for autistic learners.
Identity, one's definition of the self, is a cornerstone of wellness and well-studied feature of adolescence and emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2004).
Groups that are marginalized in society share distinctive features of identity development as they define themselves amidst a broader culture marked by racism, heterosexism, ableism, and other forms of oppression (Mio, Barker & Tumambing, 2012).
The opposition of disability studies and the medical model is not new, but the debate is particularly active in discussions of autism as diagnosis and popular and academic coverage have increased.
Books that astutely examine the history and alternative view of autism as contributing society's diversity have recently gained attention in academic circles as well as with the general public (Donovan & Zuker, 2016; Mc Guire, 2016; Silberman, 2015).
Similar to racial, ethnic, and sexuality minority groups, autistic individuals 1 develop identity within a culture that may not understand or accept their distinct ways of being.
How can autistics forge positive identities in a cultural context of ableism?
Following a civil rights framework, disability studies inquiry has demonstrated the malleability and situation-specific notion of disability as well as its connections to privilege, oppression, and social power (Nielsen, 2012).
A prevalence study estimated that .7 to 1.9 percent of enrolled college and university students met the diagnostic criteria for ASD, although many were unlabeled (White, Ollendick & Bray, 2011).