Doctoral Dissertation 2009 – Kathryn (Katie) Kramer, Psy.D.

Long overdue, especially with how many families Katie helped with both her research and hands-on work, which she loved.  Wanted to post Katie’s Doctoral Dissertation in electronic form (link below).  A big thank you to Shawn Rubin for asking if he could re-read Katie’s work and how important he thought it was/is.  One glitch (old software) was fixed so graphs are complete in the Appendix.  (If you spot any other issues I missed, just email.)

May Katie’s work and understanding, propel her goals of further improving the lives of both individuals and families, and bringing greater understanding to professionals.  She really fought hard for and believed that all people could have, and deserved, a voice. You are greatly missed, Katie, but your work continues and your spirit still inspires today.


By Katie Kramer

Submitted to
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
Doctor of Psychology
February 27, 2009


This Phenomenlogical investigation explored how an adult with Asperger’s syndrome experiences his or her special interests. Research participants consisted of 12 individuals, eight male and four female. Each had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome by a qualified mental health professional and each participant had identified having a special interest. Upon analysis, the following themes were identified: the three textural themes are 1) coping, with the sub themes of escape and anesthetizing, focused attention, and maintaining predictability through object focus, 2) addiction, 3) valued and respected. The primary researcher provided three individual textural descriptions, three structural descriptions, a composite textural and structural description, and a synthesis integrating the above. Two elements of the study appear to be unique findings, and therefore provide a new contribution to the understanding of special interests. This study reveals that males appear to be more intensely absorbed in their special interest than females. In addition, clear differences emerge between special interests and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Special interests are used as an ego syntonic coping mechanism and as a bridge to social connection. The findings of this study suggest the value of further research in utilizing self-reports garnered from unstructured in-depth interviews with adults with AS about their special interests.

Electronic Download

More: About Dr Kathryn Kramer


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