An exploration into gendered experiences in autism
BF0724 | HM1106 | RJ506.A9
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.
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