Date of Award


Degree Name

Leadership Studies


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Dennis M. Anderson, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Bethel

Third Advisor

Dr. Edna Meisel


This study explored resilience factors as identified by autistic adults with authentic lived experience. Historically, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been diagnosed using deficit models and criteria designed by outsiders with little input from the autism community. While risk of adversity is often high for those with ASD, scant research exists looking at the strengths, adaptive skills, and environmental factors contributing to the resilience of people with ASD. Autistic adults were interviewed (N = 10) to assess which internal and external risks and protections participants deemed important to their resilience. Responses were coded, analyzed, and compared to existing resilience data from the literature. Results indicated a high overlap (87.5%) of risk and protection factors between existing literature and interview results. However, many novel risks and protections were shared by participants, and autistics likely need unique and individualized systems of support to nurture their development of resilience. Implications for the field of resilience research are presented, and new methods to assess the capacity of systems to foster autistic resilience are discussed.


Autism Spectrum Disorder -- Research.

Resilience (Personality trait) -- Research.