An exploration into gendered experiences in autism

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Tierney, S.
  • Subject: BF0724 | HM1106 | RJ506.A9
    mesheuropmc: education

The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of adolescent females on the autism spectrum. During adolescence, the quality of friendships and social expectations implicitly change, challenging those on the spectrum. The study aimed to understand how girls cope in social situations in the context of having socio-communication difficulties and at a developmental stage where demands to use these skills increases.\ud Semi-structured interviews were designed and piloted before ten participants with a diagnosis of any autism spectrum condition (ASC) were recruited. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to explore emerging themes within each interview. Themes were cross-referenced between interviews to identify phenomena within the sample. It was found that participants experienced peer rejection as a result of their ASC-related difficulties. Most participants were motivated to build friendships and had developed sophisticated strategies of masking and imitation in order to fit in with peers. The impact of using such strategies was often highly detrimental to the mental health of participants. Findings also included the catalysing effect of transitioning between primary and secondary schools on the participants' mental health and subsequent seeking of professional support. \ud The limitations and clinical implications are explored and suggestions for future research are presented.
  • References (31)
    31 references, page 1 of 4

    Appendix 14: Table of Initial Emergent Themes ....................................................................31 Appendix 15: Sample of Reflective Diary...............................................................................36 Appendix 16: Sample of Summary Interpretation for one Participant ....................................39 Appendix 17: External Researcher's Comments on Analysis .................................................41 Appendix 18: Participant Flow Diagram .................................................................................42 Appendix 19: Publication Guidelines for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders ..................................................................................................................................................43 Appendix 20: Summary to Trust and National Research Ethics Committee...........................44 11. Communication Style 1. Initiate conversation, 1. Ask questions, 4. Initiate contact, 8. Identify target, 8. Passive stance, 9. Initiation, 10 Initiating 3. Strategizing, 1.Creation of catalogue of “safe topics”, 1. Acting lessons, 5. Be agreeable, 5. Pretend to fit in, 5.

    Be anything but yourself, 5. Masking, 8. Being in “role”, 8. No desire to conform 1. Anticipate/predict possible responses, 2. Empathy, 7.

    Identify vulnerable others, 1. Identification of vulnerable others, 10. Identification of vulnerable others, 6.

    Identification of vulnerable others, 7. Friends with Differences, 10. Identification of vulnerable others 6. Over-trying, 1. Talk about things you know about, 1.

    Systematic reciprocation during conversation, 1.

    Observe others 1. Look for people who look friendly, 4. Be nurtured, 5.

    External support, 8. Nurtured by peers, 10. Nurtured by friend 6. Parental input, 3. Aided by parents, 8. Parental engineering, 10. Parental engineering, 9. Parental engineering 2. From others, 2. Of others, 3. Accepting of others, 4.

    Accepted by others, 10. Being accepted, 9. Tolerant of differences 9. Shared history of difficulties, 8. Difficulties, 6.

    Friends with Differences, 7. Shared history of stress 2. Common interests, 10. Shared interests, 9. Shared interests, 10. Shared interests 4. Non-girly friends, 7. Non-girly friends, 8. Non-girly friends, 10. Non-girly friends 1. Wanting company, 2. Emotional support, 7. Support, 2. Camaraderie, 3.Camaraderie, 3.Desire for new friends, 4. Ease the pressure, 4. For support, 4. To feel less alone, 4. To escape from stress, 5. Camaraderie through lack of choice 7. Protect Mental Health, 6. Protect Mental Health, 5.

    Needing to talk, 9. protects MH 2. Conflict in friendships, 2. Compromising, 1. Pretend to like the same things, 3. Managing conflict, 3.

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