Using a Participatory Research Model to Investigate the Friendship Experiences of Females with Autism or Social Communication Difficulties

Prof Doc Thesis

Tee, A. 2019. Using a Participatory Research Model to Investigate the Friendship Experiences of Females with Autism or Social Communication Difficulties. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsTee, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

There is an historical gender bias towards males in autism diagnosis rates. A recent survey showed that, in England, 1.8% of men and boys have a diagnosis of ASD versus only 0.2% of women and girls. However, the National Autistic Society (NAS) report an increasing number of girls and women being referred for ASD assessment. Theorists are beginning to challenge the notion that autism is a predominately male phenomenon, and are suggesting alternative explanations to the difference in diagnosis rates. As a result of this bias, few research studies have been conducted in the field of females with autism. Furthermore, studies that do exist largely focus on identifying differences in gender presentation, especially in regards to the diagnostic criteria. There is a lack of participant voice, or studies that consider how support might need to differ across gender. This project aimed to hear autistic female voices in regards to their experiences. It used a case study methodology to explore the friendship experiences of children and young people (ages 9-17 years) with autism or social communication difficulties attending a specialist education setting. Focus groups using a semi-structured interview approach were employed to collect qualitative data regarding the participants‘ views. This data was then analysed using the process of thematic analysis. The participants discussed their experiences of friendship and support within the school setting. The study highlighted themes including an understanding of friendship, feelings of belonging, and support that could be put in place to improve friendship experiences. The school hoped to put in place provision reflecting these lessons. This research was planned and delivered alongside a co-researcher, according to participatory principles. The co-researcher was recruited from the female population within the target educational setting and was a young person with autism.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Online24 Jul 2020
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Deposited24 Jul 2020
SubmittedApr 2019
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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