Communication Disorders and Science

Faculty Advisor

Boyer, Valerie


The purpose of this study was to advocate and raise awareness of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to SIU law students and to inform communication disorders and science (CDS) students of some basic facts about the criminal justice system in the United States. To accomplish this, an interdisciplinary session was conducted in which three CDS students taught ten law students about characteristics of ASD and three law teacher assistants taught thirteen CDS students about disability law and other intricacies of the justice system. Fifteen question pre-surveys were distributed to the participants upon arrival. CDS students answered questions about court proceedings and defendant rights and law students answered questions about various ASD characteristics. Each group of students were divided into three groups (six groups total) and were taught information pertaining to the questions in the surveys in a collaborative manner. Afterwards, all participants took a post-survey identical to the pre-survey. Post-survey results of the law students increased in accuracy by 19.35% (average 4.7 question increase). Post-survey results of the CDS students increased in accuracy by 15.9% (average 2.38 question increase). The interdisciplinary session succeeded in raising law students’ awareness of autism spectrum disorder and in increasing CDS students’ knowledge of the criminal justice system.


Thank you to Valerie Boyer, Melissa Marlow, Hannah Byers, Melissa Kucyk, Alan Mabee, Cortney McKinney, and Steven Rodgers.