Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


During the 1980's, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was categorized as a developmental disorder separate from other developmental disorders, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III (DSM-III). There were various pioneers and advocates who have helped the evolution of the ASD diagnosis from the time period of 1980-2013. Based on this evolution, schools, institutions and society as a whole, needed additional information and professional preparation in order to educate and create awareness regarding the treatment and education of individuals with ASD.

The central research questions are: During the time period from 1980-2013, who were the pioneers and advocates for the medical field, assessments, therapies and educational treatments, regulations, rights, funding and societal acceptance for ASD? By what means did they advocate, and what role did their advocacy play in the evolution of diagnosis? How did the changes in each of the above mentioned areas impact those with ASD? What are the implications for today's educational leaders as advocates for educational programming, societal acceptance, care and respect for those with ASD?

This study concluded that many pioneers and advocates played an important role in the evolution of the ASD diagnosis. Each pioneer and advocate, in their own regard, increased awareness and contributed to the way ASD is perceived. This awareness has changed how people with ASD are educated and treated today.

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Creative Commons License
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