My name is Kayden Stockwell and I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia studying developmental psychology with a concentration in quantitative methods. Under the supervision of Dr. Vikram Jaswal, I investigate autistic social interaction and how autistic people are perceived. I am particularly interested in live, dyadic interactions and in the Double Empathy Problem.
Outside of the lab, I am passionate about increasing access for disabled students in higher education and am active in several local LGBTQ+ organizations. I also enjoy working with students to support their understanding of course content, exploring their research interests, and deciding if graduate school is the right path for them.
BA in Psychology and BS in Human Development, 2018
Binghamton University, State University of New York
Autistic students experience strengths and challenges that can impact their full inclusion in higher education, including stigma. A participatory team of autistic and non-autistic scholars developed an Autism and Universal Design (UD) training. This participatory approach centered the voices of autistic collaborators in training designand evaluation. Ninety-eight educators from 53 institutions across 5 countries completed assessments before training (pre-tests), 89 completed post-tests (after training), and 82 completed maintenance assessments (amonth after post-test). Pre-test autism stigma was heightened among males, educators with less autism knowledge, and those who reported heightened social dominance orientation. Autism knowledge, autism stigma, and attitudes toward UD improved with training. Improvements remained apparent a month after post-test but were somewhat attenuated for knowledge and stigma. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first evidence of maintenance of benefits of an autism training over time. Participants’ main reason for enrolling in the study was to gain a better understanding about neurodiversity. Feedback indicates that this goal was reached by most with the added benefit of gaining understanding about UD. Results suggest that interest in one type of diversity (i.e., autism) can motivate faculty to learn UD-aligned teaching strategies that benefit diverse students more generally.
Autistic people, by definition, differ in social behavior from non-autistic individuals. One characteristic common to many autistic people is a special interest in a particular topic—something spoken about with such frequency and intensity that it may be stigmatized by non-autistic peers. We investigated college students’ interest in interacting with peers described as behaving in ways characteristic of autism (or not), and additionally described as having a special interest (or not). As expected, autistic characters were more stigmatized, but autistic characters with a special interest were not more stigmatized than those without. Only among non-autistic characters was having a special interest associated with greater stigmatization. Findings give further insight into factors influencing the stigmatization of autistic college students.