Postdoctoral Associate Elizabeth Schmidt was awarded a Switzer Fellowship from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) for her project “Understanding Sexuality and Community Participation in Adults on the Autism Spectrum.” Switzer Research Fellowships support highly qualified individuals, including those with disabilities, to conduct high quality research on the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities.
Schmidt is a postdoctoral associate in the Families and Autism Research Lab which focuses on contextual aspects of autism spectrum disorder across the life course, such as family relationships, friendships, and social and community participation, especially during the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Research has shown LGBTQIA+ adults with autism experience discrimination and disparities in employment, independent living, and community participation. Schmidt’s research will propose an approach to promote full inclusion and inform future directions to improve quality of life, meaningful relationships and understanding and acceptance of diverse identities. Her study includes co-researchers and participants with autism who describe how LGBTQIA+ autistic adults perceive their intersectional identities, how they believe their identities impact their community participation, and what they believe are barriers and facilitators to inclusion.