Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Gender identity, Autistic children-Psychology, Autism, Autism spectrum disorder, Gender identity development, Gender variant identity, Children


The purpose of this study was to explore the development of gender identity in children with autism. This research asked "Do people on the autism spectrum acquire gender identity differently than those who are neurotypically developing?" It was hypothesized that those on the autism spectrum did acquire gender identity differently, and that this process may be more influenced by individual cognition than social learning. This was a descriptive study that was cross-sectional in nature. Young adults were asked retrospective questions in a mixed-methods survey that was conducted on the internet. A sample of 29 participants comprised this study. No clear conclusion was reached regarding the research question; however, the sample provided ample descriptive data. Key findings of this study included the following: (1) participants' process of establishing their gender identity, (2) the interaction between autism and gender, (3) the incidence of gender variant identity in this sample, and (4) how participants received information and support. Important implications for this study include increased attention to gender identity development for all children with autism, by both mental health professionals and teachers, as well as continued commitment to exploring this scholarship.




iii, 63 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 53-55)