Social communication differences in autistic individuals have historically been viewed as disordered due to a comparison to the social behavior of the predominate nonautistic neurotype. Such comparison has led to a variety of social communication challenges that result in a variety of cognitive and affective reflections in autistic adults. The study aimed to explore two specific concepts: 1) the self-perceived challenges related to social communication and interaction of autistic young adults and 2) the cognitive and affective impact of their social communication challenges. This study explores the perspectives of 15 autistic young adults who are conversation-level verbal communicators. Individual semi-structured interviews were presented via Zoom video conference. An interpretive phenomenological approach was used to analyze the data. A total of eight themes emerged between the two studies that provided insight on their social communication experiences. The findings suggest that participants desired greater acceptance and inclusivity of autistic social communication. When considering the role of the Speech-Language Pathologist, this research suggests a shift towards a social-relational model of disability to guide their relationship with clients, and potential clients, who are autistic adults. This model of disability charges the professional to advocate for sociopolitical changes while providing direct support services, based on their needs, to target disabling effects related to social communication challenges.

LLU Discipline

Rehabilitation Sciences


Rehabilitation Sciences


School of Allied Health Professions

First Advisor

Karen Mainess

Second Advisor

Heather Javaherian

Third Advisor

Misaki Natsuaki

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Social Behavior; Communication; Autistic Disorder



Page Count

xii, 105 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives