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Dr. Jennifer Cullen and Dr. Jolynn Haney

Understanding and Treating Autism in Women: Using Lived Experiences to Shape Practice

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“What we know about individuals who are female with Autism is primarily based on females who also have an accompanying intellectual disability. But, what we know about individuals without an intellectual disability and who are female continues to be very limited,and we really don’t understand what that phenotype looks like.”

Dr. Jennifer Cullen &
Dr. Jolynn Haney

In this episode, our guests Dr. Jennifer Cullen and Dr. Jolynn Haney discuss gender differences in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the reasons why obtaining an accurate diagnosis may be difficult for females. They describe their research involving the socialization process of women diagnosed with ASD within an online community and how social workers can more effectively assist these individuals.

Jennifer Cullen, PhD, received her doctorate in social work from Widener University. She is currently an assistant professor in the Center for Social Work Education at Widener University and works as the on-campus MSW program director. Prior to taking a full time faculty position, Dr. Cullen was the assistant director of the Disabilities Program at Widener, providing academic and functional support for college students diagnosed with Autism. Her current research interests include qualitative studies of young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and support services to enhance the professional identity development of students.

Jolynn L. Haney, PhD, LSW, completed her doctorate in social work at Widener University, receiving the Thomas Young Outstanding Dissertation Award. Her research agenda is best described as critical disability studies with a focus on autism and intellectual disability. In particular, she is dedicated to contributing to the body of knowledge about the experiences of women on the autism spectrum and critically evaluating disability policy affecting all individuals on the autism spectrum. In 2002, she formed Deerfield Data Management, LLC, a firm specializing in collecting, extracting, and interpreting behavioral healthcare information for non-profit organizations and county governments. In addition to her work at Deerfield Data Management, Dr. Haney is also an instructor for the Center for Social Work Education at Widener University, located in Chester Pennsylvania.

Interviewer: Gretchen Bennett, MA

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