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Title: An investigation into the views of young people with Autism Spectrum Condition (aged 14-19) on their use of social media
Author: de Sausmarez, Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 3524
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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Introduction: Young people with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) have been shown to be at higher risk of many negative factors associated with internet use. However, many anecdotal reports have suggested that social media can have a positive impact on young people with ASC, with the emergence of social media for the ASC population being compared to the emergence of sign language in the deaf community. This has been hypothesised to be due to online communication lessening “the emotional, social and time pressures experienced in offline situations” (Benford and Standen, 2009 p.2). Method: This research explored young people (aged 14-19) with ASCs’ digital identity and how they feel it relates to; relationships, psychological well-being and life outcomes. Phase one data collection was through a questionnaire formed of three standardised measures to assess; digital identity (the Autism Digital Identity Scale, adapted from the Deaf Acculturation Scale; Maxwell-McCaw & Zea, 2011), relationship formation (the Friendship Scale; Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright, 2003), and well-being (the Moods and Feelings Questionnaire; Angold & Costello, 1987). Four questions on a Likert scale were used to ascertain views about life outcomes. For phase two, participants were asked to contribute to an online forum, where a qualitative thematic analysis and a systematic qualitative analysis were undertaken to find any phenomena occurring. Two participants were chosen as case studies. Results: A relationship was found between those who identify as non-autistic online and enjoy close relationships. A relationship is found between those with an autistic digital identity and those who feel that the internet will support their life outcomes with regards to forming relationships. A negative correlation was found between non-autistic digital identity and believing the internet will improve both work and life outcomes. A variety of sub-categories arose from the qualitative analysis, including; choosing/disclosing a non-autistic digital identity, advantages to online communication, removal of eye-contact/time pressures online, making new friends, online social support and confidence in online interaction. Discussion: The findings from both phase one and phase two are discussed in relation to previous research. Potential areas of further research are discussed, while highlighting a paucity in research for training appropriate use of social media for young people with ASC.
Supervisor: Norwich, Brahm ; Tunbridge, Margie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: social media ; autism