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Title: Managing romantic closeness in autism : an inter-subjective approach
Author: Lewis, Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6352 627X
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Regent's University London
Date of Award: 2016
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Given the limited empirical evidence to guide support for romantic functioning in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this research aims to explore how closeness is managed in romantic relationships when one member is diagnosed with ASD. 8 participants, 3 couples and 2 individuals aged between 26 and 80 took part in the study. Of these 5 (3 male and 2 female) were autistic and 3 (1 male and 2 females were non-autistic). Participants were recruited using a specialist nationwide organization and they were interviewed individually or conjointly, as well as observed during a 15- minute interaction. Constructivist grounded theory was used to analyse the data and a framework was produced to describe processes of managing closeness in ASD. The core concept to emerge from the analysis was entitled “reaching towards the unknown”. It consisted of three categories, termed “encountering the other”, “reaching for understanding” and “managing uncertainty”. The framework captured processes of joining with and adapting to someone very different, of stretching beyond familiar bounds in order to understand the other and manage uncertainty. This research offers an inter-subjective perspective of ASD. It frames socio-emotional reciprocity and adaptability within romantic relationships as relational phenomena, which are contingent upon factors outlined within the framework. The model considers pre-existing theories about romantic closeness in order to assist counselling psychologists in accommodating ASD within their couple therapy practice.
Supervisor: Kasket, Elaine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dating (Social customs) ; Autism--Social aspects ; Autistic people--Psychology ; Autism spectrum disorders--Patients--Family relationships