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Title: A thematic analysis exploring social and emotional aspects of self-understanding in adolescents on the autism spectrum
Author: Martin, Philip J.
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2015
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People diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are proposed to have characteristic social and communication difficulties and are considered to have a ‘mindblindness’ that positions them as unable to infer the thoughts and feelings of others as well as themselves. There is potential for this to impact upon processes associated with self-understanding. In light of this, eight adolescents (11-16 years of age) diagnosed with an ASC were interviewed to investigate their self-understanding. They were asked about what makes them who they are, their relationships with others, how this helps them make sense of themselves, and their experiences of emotions. The participants were recruited from a mainstream school in the South East of England that had a dedicated ASC unit. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and two superordinate themes and five subthemes were identified; Comparison to others is crucial for self-understanding and The ASC unit was a place where the participants could be who they wanted to be. Findings suggest that individuals recognised that they were different to others and actively positioned their difference as positive. The ASC unit also appeared to provide an environment for self-exploration, and the understanding and management of emotions. Implications for policy and clinical practice are discussed, including the recognition of the individual differences this population shows in the expression of emotion and how this relates to the elicitation of support. These individual differences are suggestive of a need for careful planning of individual support packages. It is also argued that the positioning of an ASC as positive by these participants is aided by the environment and peer relationships.
Supervisor: Gleeson, Kate ; Williams, Emma Sponsor: Surrey and Borders NHS Foundation Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available