Savannah Higgins


Black Femme Autism: Amplifying Intersectionality in Social Work Education to Address Barriers to Culturally Responsive Services


The collection of papers presented in this capstone project explores the intricate challenges surrounding autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experienced by Black women and girls. ASD, a complex neurodevelopmental condition, profoundly impacts communication, social interactions, and behavior across various contexts. However, the experiences of Black women and girls with ASD often remain unrecognized or minimized, leading to disparities in diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. The systematic literature review uncovers prevalent barriers to culturally responsive autism services for this demographic, emphasizing the need for more inclusive research and cultural awareness among service providers. The conceptual paper proposes a critical Black feminist disability framework to better understand the intersectional experiences of Black women and girls with ASD. Meanwhile, the practice application paper outlines a course focused on diversity and intersectionality in social work education, aiming to equip future practitioners with the skills to address the unique needs of Black femme autistic individuals. Key findings underscore the importance of embracing intersectionality within social work practice and education to advance equity and social justice. By recognizing and addressing the intersecting realities of race, gender, and disability, social workers can provide tailored support that acknowledges the diverse identities and experiences of Black women and girls with ASD. Ultimately, these efforts aim to promote inclusivity, empower marginalized communities, and ensure equitable access to support services.


Savannah Higgins is a licensed social worker who earned her MSW from Louisiana State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in human services from Troy University. She has also undergone specialized training in diversity, equity, and inclusion through the University of South Florida.

Savannah has contributed to various helping professions through psychotherapy, crisis counseling, DEI initiatives, military law, and education. Currently, she serves as the owner and academic director of Mosaic Academic Empowerment Center, an organization dedicated to providing neurodiversity-affirming academic support to women, girls, and other historically marginalized genders. Savannah has also taken on the role of adjunct professor, teaching both graduate and undergraduate social work courses at various institutions. Committed to removing obstacles to essential support and resources, her doctoral research focuses on amplifying intersectionality in social work education to address barriers to culturally responsive services.

Savannah’s achievements have led to her induction into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology, Phi Alpha Honor Society, and others. She maintains affiliations with organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, National Association of Black Social Workers, American Psychological Association, and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. Savannah has also contributed to social work-focused publications like Social Work Today and has peer-reviewed journal articles under review.