Date of Award

Winter 12-16-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Cynthia Haynes, M.Ed., OTD, OTR/L

Medical Subject Headings

Austic Disorder, Empathy, Social Behavior, Nonverbal Communication, Occupational Therapy


This article critically examines autism and autistic stimming through the lenses of neurotypicals and autistics, evaluates confines currently imposed upon autistics by neurotypical society, and synthesizes what autistic leaders have expressed about their experiences striving for inclusion (Gernsbacher, 2017; Milton, 2012). Autistic-led studies are now at the forefront of the neurodiversity movement and are growing in fervor. The following themes were identified: (a) prevalence of autism, (b) the interpretation and measurement of empathy, (c) discovery of genetic factors transformed autistics’ identity, (d) publication of non-genetic factors such as vaccines undermined the legitimacy of the autism language, (e) the problem with the lack of social language legitimacy, (f) autistic empathy, (g) past and current interventions, (h) destructive interventions thwart connection and cause mental health decline, (i) neurotypical perceptions of the autistic; (j) the responsibilities required in dual communication; and (h) autistic stimming has form, structure, and predictability. The language of stimming has not yet been defined or interpreted in a way the neurotypical community can comprehend and it is this lack of understanding neurotypicals have of the autistic that causes a disconnect between the two groups (DeThorne, 2020; Kapp et al, 2019a; Milton, 2012). Autistic empathy is physically manifested by the language of stimming so hopefully, neurotypicals will begin to feel empowered to learn it. This re-educating neurotypicals about autistic social language would diversify the neurotypical’s understanding of social behavior. For, it is only when neurotypicals give empathy in the same format they require of autistics, that we be fully included.


Capstone project presented to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Occupational Therapy.

Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 2025