Date of Award


Document Type

Chapman access only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Special Education

First Advisor

Dawn Hunter

Second Advisor

Margie Sauceda Curwen

Third Advisor

Kris De Pedro

Fourth Advisor

Gail Stearns


Research has found that females on the autism spectrum often spend years not understanding why they are different resulting in experienced otherness. My self-directed study written through narrative and poetry-explored the story of a non-traditional graduate student on the autism spectrum at a university. This thesis addresses the question “how is identity shaped through life events”? Looking inside the layers and doorways of self challenged my own long held assumptions of difference and marginalization. Acceptance of self is a lifetime journey. The result showed mentoring is a critical function of academic and personal success. Suggestions are provided to educators to see the person as an individual, look for the twice-gifted student, and attempt to understand the feelings of marginality. These suggestions are presented with the hope of bringing insight and awareness to educators’ understanding of individuals on the wide spectrum called Autism.

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