Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Daughton, Suzanne


In this study, I used to use a variety of accommodative techniques to conduct oral interviews with young adult participants who presented with unique social language needs. Their needs highlighted and allowed critique of the research methods that I have learned, bringing up important ethical and pedagogical issues regarding difference and (dis)ability in research and research populations. I asked them what they thought about and wanted from their social experiences and learned that they perceive themselves as being perpetually misunderstood. I analyzed the data for potential misunderstandings and uncovered alternate readings of communication that are naturally not considered when typical assumptions of communication prevail. Avoiding misunderstandings can be as easy as changing one’s assumptions about communication. With small changes in assumptions, meanings change, and outcomes improve. The project revealed themes that speak to larger cultural conversations about ability and young adulthood. These millennials are not using social media; they think differently about the “high-functioning vs. low-functioning” autism dialectic; and they critique adult programs and services. Suggested tips for cross-cultural communication are provided.




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