Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Learning and Instruction


Learning & Instruction EdD

First Advisor

Emily Nusbaum

Second Advisor

Nicola McClung

Third Advisor

Jane Bleasdale

Fourth Advisor

Nick Walker


Traditional research regarding communication differences for autistic individuals, including scripting (“delayed echolalia”) is grounded in the pathology paradigm and thus emphasizes the elimination of scripting, without looking at the features and benefits it serves the individual utilizing it. This study, by prioritizing the autistic voices as the resounding experts on the topic of scripting, attempts to identify the communicative features and benefits of scripting, as well as how the dynamics of the conversation partner impact the exchange, both positively and negatively. Further, the research looks at the features of scripting as described by autistic adults. It also addresses the pressures placed on families regarding how to react to communication differences. Using qualitative methods, 21 autistic people completed an online, open-ended survey about their experiences with scripting. Further, two of the participants were part of a follow-up in depth interview, and a third participant was referred as a successful communication partner, or familiar listener. The results of the data support a variety of positive benefits of scripting in the realm of communication including; navigating small talk, communicating complex thoughts and emotions, and communicating during stressful situations. Further benefits include providing comfort and fun, as well as success in the workplace. Despite these benefits negative responses to scripting from communication partners have detrimental implications due to the isolation, embarrassment, and pressure to fit in that is put forth by society. This may have serious impacts on the mental health of the autistic community resulting in depression and anxiety. Features of scripting include their evolution over time as they become more subtle and complex based on life and social experiences. Familiar listeners report benefits for engaging in scripting with autistic family members, but also recognize outside pressures placed upon them regarding how to respond in an effort to normalize behavior.