Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

School Psychology

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Anisa N. Goforth

Commitee Members

Rachel Severson, Trent Atkins


special education, disproportionality, Native American, autism, implicit bias


University of Montana

Subject Categories

School Psychology


School psychologists are called upon to promote nondiscriminatory practices that ensure equity and fairness for all youth, including racially minoritized students. Despite being overrepresented in almost every other disability category of special education, Native American students nationwide are underrepresented within the category of autism. The current study focuses on factors within educators that might lead to the underidentification of Native American students with autism. In alignment with the cultural humility model, and the tripartite model of multicultural competence embedded within it, the current study explored 36 educators’ attitudes, knowledge, and skills as they relate to the culturally responsive assessment of Native American students. Results from two implicit association tests provided evidence that educators may have more negative associations of emotional disturbance as compared to autism. Qualitative responses revealed educators’ reliance on autism assessment knowledge and skills and barriers to evaluation such as difficulty differentiating between cultural differences and disability. Implications for school-based autism evaluation teams working with Native American students are discussed, including the importance of involving families throughout the evaluation process in line with the cultural humility model.



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