Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Julie N. Causton-Theoharis


Adolescence, Art Education, Arts Informed Research, Autism, Disability Studies

Subject Categories



This research engages a combined qualitative methodology of arts-informed research and critical descriptive ethnography to study thirteen adolescent artists with autism as they engage in art making across multiple art education contexts. This study revealed the perceptions of stakeholders about art and autism that informed the access these adolescent artists had to art education and art materials. These perceptions included varying ideas of competence, ability and struggle associated with an identity as `autistic'. In the examination of these adolescents' experiences the engagement with art making and the role of art in the lives of these artists is explored. It is shown that art functions as communication and a way of connecting to the world around them, acting as a form of literacy through the visual text of their artwork. This study offers a paradigm for inclusive art education that operates within the social model of dis/ability and considers strategies for full inclusion with art curriculum and art materials. Recommendations for families, art teachers of students with autism and art teacher preparation are provided.


Open Access

Included in

Education Commons