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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

A Cross-Disciplinary Assessment of Autism

Autism is considered to be one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States. Even though an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with autism each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009), professionals working with this population in educational and medical fields demonstrate inconsistent and inaccurate knowledge about autism. The current project reviewed multiple surveys of autism awareness across a variety of disciplines in order to discover the understanding of autism in different professions. Specific populations of studies reviewed included medical students, school teachers, hospital physicians, and speech-language pathologists in both hospital and educational settings. In general, survey questions focused on the perceived causes, characteristics, and respondentís experiences with autism, as well as the amount of time working with clients who have autism. One study surveying speech-language pathologists in educational settings found more knowledge existed about the typical characteristics of autism versus actual diagnostic criteria and behaviors that must be present for a diagnosis (Schwarz & Drager, 2008). Another study surveyed first- and fourth-year medical students. Results indicated that fourth-year students received expectantly higher scores than first-year students, indicating knowledge was accrued in this area over this three year period. Upon comparing the two aforementioned studies, speech-language pathologists appeared to demonstrate more well-rounded knowledge of autism relative to medical students who focused on diagnostic criteria. Overall, survey findings are interpreted in the context of how much time professionals spend working with individuals with autism and their actual knowledge of the disorder.

Presenter: Maritsa Sherenian (Ithaca College) --
Topic: Social Work - Poster Session
Location: Edwards Hall Lobby
Time: 10:30 am (Session II)