Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sharon G. Horne

Second Advisor

Steven Vannoy

Third Advisor

Heidi M. Levitt


Emerging literature suggests greater diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity among autistic individuals. Little is known about the challenges faced by autistic-LGBTQ individuals in coping with prejudice-events rooted in heterosexism. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of an expressive writing intervention in coping with experiences of heterosexism. This mixed-method, longitudinal, pilot study examined the impact of two writing interventions (1. a guided emotion focused therapy (EFT) intervention and 2. an expressive writing intervention) on depressive symptoms, trauma/stressor symptoms, and self-assessment of exercises among a sample of autistic-LGBTQ individuals. Repeated measures analysis of variance was utilized to examine changes in participants who completed the intervention through efficacy analyses (N=34), as well as all who participated in the study using intent-to-treat analyses (N=56). Although no differences were found between conditions, participants across both groups presented with significant reduction and small effects in both depressive and trauma/stressor symptoms. There were no differences between conditions on self-assessment of exercises. Overall, results suggest this may be a promising way of coping with heterosexism among autistic-LGBTQ individuals and warrant further study. Clinical and social justice implications are presented along with future directions for research.


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