eTheses Repository

“Determined to succeed”: perceptions of success from autistic adults

Macleod, Andrea Georgia (2016)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

PDF (2725Kb)Accepted Version


This qualitative study employed a participatory approach to consult with sixteen autistic students on their experiences of success. Participants were students at five different UK higher education institutions. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, the research explored how they defined their successes and made sense of them in relation to their autism diagnoses. A flexible, multi-staged interview process was used. Evaluations indicated that the methodology enabled participation on both practical and theoretical levels. Participants became co-analysts of their data and demonstrated commitment to the project.
The students described a wide range of successes, from the academic to the deeply personal, providing powerful counter-narratives to the dominant deficit-based interpretation of autism. The encouragement of one key individual (professional, family member or friend) had often been greatly influential to their achievements. Findings indicated the need for participants to both resist essentialist discourses regarding autism and to make themselves ‘extra-visible’ as an autistic person in order to assert their rights, with the autism diagnosis perceived as both an aid to self-understanding and a cause of additional barriers. In raising awareness of their own needs, participants contributed to broader understandings of autism, becoming educators and role models. The research demonstrates the importance of insights from autistic individuals, in particular showing how making sense of the autism label relates to perceptions of success. Implications for post-diagnostic support are discussed.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Allan, Julie and Lewis, Ann and Robertson, Christopher
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:School of Education, Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs
Subjects:LB2300 Higher Education
LC Special aspects of education
LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:6798
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
Export Reference As : ASCII + BibTeX + Dublin Core + EndNote + HTML + METS + MODS + OpenURL Object + Reference Manager + Refer + RefWorks
Share this item :
QR Code for this page

Repository Staff Only: item control page