Amplifying Autistic Voices
The purpose of this research is to build an evidence base for the Toastmasters curriculum specifically for autistic participants. For the last10 years, Judi Uttal has led the Orange County Asperger's Support Group (OCASG) Toastmaster's Gavel Club, exclusively for autistic youth. The OCASG Gavel Club provides a mutually supportive, positive learning environment to develop communication skills, leadership skills, awareness, and socialization, which in turn fosters self-confidence and personal growth. The Club has continued to meet during the pandemic by moving in-person meetings online (via Zoom). Bridging on these program successes, this project includes a pilot study to empirically evaluate the impact of participation, as well as the feasibility of implementation (i.e., fidelity, acceptability) among autistic young adults. To date, no studies have been published on this topic, and thus, there is much to be learned about this community-based program for autistic members.
Another unique and meaningful aspect of this project is the inclusion of autistic adults, as well as autism advocates and mentors including Judi Uttal, as partners in this work. During this two-year research, the project team will collaborate to empirically test the program's effectiveness and eventually expand this service to autistic individuals in the community.
For a more information on this project, please visit:
the project's research preview page on the Organization for Autism Research website (click here).
the opinion piece in the LA Times Daily Pilot (click here)
an interview with myself and my co-Principal Investigator on the research methods of this project in the Summer 2022 Newsletter of APA Division 33 (click here)
Please reach out for additional information or questions.
Amplifying Autistic Voices: Investigating the Impact of a Community-Based Public Speaking Program (2021-20223. Grant funded by the Organization for Autism Research.
Co-PIs: Yasamin Bolourian, PhD, & Sasha Zeedyk, PhD