Making Sense of Gender: The Perspectives of Autistic Children in Key Stage 2 and the Adults That Know Them Well

Prof Doc Thesis

Wasilonek, C. 2022. Making Sense of Gender: The Perspectives of Autistic Children in Key Stage 2 and the Adults That Know Them Well. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsWasilonek, C.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

There has been little research to date, in the UK or otherwise, that uses participatory visual methods to understand how autistic children make sense of gender. This research explored the experiences of three autistic children in Key Stage 2, their parents and members of staff, using a mosaic approach to data collection. This mosaic comprised of three activities with the children to understand their opinions on clothes and toys, and to find out about their special interests. The results of these activities were fed back to them and their parents to allow co-construction. Semi structured interviews were carried out with four parents and two members of school staff to complete the mosaic. The data was analysed using Reflexive Thematic Analysis (RTA) to identify themes across the data. Five overarching themes were identified: The child’s view of the world; Self-expression through hobbies, play and interests; Making sense of clothes, making sense of people; The impact of the immediate environment; and Gendered messages are everywhere in the wider world we live in. The findings are discussed in relation to the underpinning theory and the existing corpus of data, and avenues for future research are discussed. These findings are relevant to professionals working with autistic children and young people and shed light on the sense making process relating to gender. The aim is that we might better understand and support autistic children and those who might be gender-diverse.

KeywordsASC; ASD; autism; autistic; gender identity; gender roles; gender stereotypes neurodiverse; social learning
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online24 Oct 2022
Publication process dates
Submitted06 Jul 2022
Deposited24 Oct 2022
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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