Ariel Detzer, Psy.D., is a 2016 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle

Dissertation Committee

Jane Harmon-Jacobs, Ph.D., Committee Chair

Steven Curtis, Ph.D., Committee Member

Carrie Snow, Ph.D., Committee Member


Neurodiversity, autistic self-advocacy, autism, Aspergers syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, special education, teachers, general education classroom, teacher training, qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, Participatory Action Research

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Publication Date



Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental differences in the United States, with estimates of prevalence as high as 1 in 68 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016). Over recent decades, two trends have converged to bring autism to the fore as a challenge facing public education. First, changes in the conceptualization of autism have led to greater diagnostic capture of autistic individuals, and second, changes in special education practice regarding inclusion (emphasizing placement in Least Restrictive Environment) have increased the number of autistic students in mainstream classrooms. Meanwhile, autism research has largely been driven by a DSM definition based the behavioral and social deficits rather than the cognitive and sensory traits of autism. The legacy of this social functioning deficit lens is a lopsided emphasis in available educational interventions. A review of available educator resources online indicates that the majority of educational support has been developed to meet the behavioral challenges of autistic inclusion students, while differences in autistic ways of perceiving, thinking, and learning have gone largely unacknowledged and unsupported by standard available educational approaches. This Action Research project gathered input from a group of educators via a mixed methods approach (Likert-type survey and focus group) on their experiences and needs regarding effective support of autistic inclusion students. Drawing on educator input, author experience in the schools, and current psychological literature on autistic learning differences, a teacher training resource that emphasized greater support for autistic learning differences with awareness of sensory experiences and autistic cognition was developed. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Ariel Detzer, Psy.D., 2016.

ORCID Scholar # 0000-0001-6542-5083