Date of Submission

Spring 2015

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Sarah Dunphy-Lelii

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Since its beginning, research about autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has been gender-biased. Much research focuses on the male presentation of ASD. Yet more recent research reveals that females with ASD are both gender non-conforming and have a different presentation of ASD symptoms than males (Cheslack-Postava & Jordan-Young, 2011; Head, McGillivray & Stokes, 2014). Taking this into account, the aim of this study was to explore how gender and diagnosis interact to influence parent perceptions of their children with ASD. Parent report was collected from online support groups. Parents of 40 children with ASD were compared to parents of 40 children with Down Syndrome (DS). Parent language was assessed based on how often parents used phrases in specific categories: positive/negative emotion, positive/negative behavior, coaching/dismissive, gendered/not gendered. There was no significant interaction between gender and diagnosis in any of the language categories. However, there was an effect of diagnosis. Parents of children with DS used more positive emotion phrases, F (1, 76) = 20.504, p = < 0.001, η2p = 0.000, and fewer negative emotion phrases than parents of children with ASD, F (1, 76) = 8.112. p = < 0.01, η2p = 0.096. There was also an effect of gender on word count. Parents of females had higher total word counts than parents of males, F (1) = 4.36, p = < 0.05, η2p = 0.054. Clearly, both gender and diagnosis influence the language parents use to describe their children. Future study with an adapted methodology will likely determine the ways in which gender and diagnosis interact to influence parent perceptions of their children with ASD.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

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