Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Shirley P. O'Brien

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Second Advisor

MaryEllen Thompson

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Third Advisor

Maggie Freeman

Department Affiliation



The Autistic community has a rich history that often includes poor mental health outcomes due to the increased stress and anxiety surrounding the push to have “normal” social skills. On Twitter, many autistic people utilize a hashtag to connect with others in the online Autistic community. This qualitative study analyzes the Twitter hashtag, #ActuallyAutistic, to understand masking and camouflaging from the autistic point of view. A qualitative descriptive approach was used to perform this analysis. The themes found emphasize the need for professionals to increase their understanding of the Autistic community’s value and contributions. By improving the ability of non-autistic professionals to listen directly to the Autistic community’s wants, needs, and desires, strengths of the group are reinforced. The purpose of this research is to increase awareness and understanding of autistic voices. Discussion includes implications for occupational therapists in the use of strengths-based approaches to improve client outcomes in the Autistic community.