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

Macleod, Andrea Georgia (2016). “Determined to succeed”: perceptions of success from autistic adults. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education, Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/6798


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