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Title: How can autistic adults be enabled to contribute their own thoughts and knowledge to significant conversations?
Author: Silver, Katharine
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 1404
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2019
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There is a call from the autistic community as well as statutory obligations to hear the meaningful thoughts and opinions of autistic people, and to learn from them; yet there is little guidance about how a communication partner may best change their communication in order to support achievement of this. Further, there is a lack of use of autistic perspectives to inform approaches or learning that may be most useful to empower autistic people in conversation; and existing interventions to develop social abilities tend to focus on changes to be made by the autistic person rather than on the interactive setting and the communication partner. This multiple-case study used a participatory approach to explore the conversation exchange in dyads of five autistic adults and seven adults without a diagnosis of autism, over a period of four to 12 months. The study was grounded in the perspectives of autistic people through a series of semi-structured interviews, observations, reflective conversations and diary records. Strategies used by communication partners without a diagnosis of autism were identified as both helpful and unhelpful to the autistic participants in optimising their engagement and supporting the autistic participant's thinking and their contribution of their thoughts and knowledge to conversation. All helpful strategies were informed by a strengths based understanding of the individual autistic person. The study also explored autistic participants' knowledge that could be useful to them in conversation. Knowledge of the communication environment, and knowledge of the type and structure of talk was accessed and used by autistic participants. This reflected effective use of metacognitive abilities and enabled a greater perceived sense of empowerment and success in conversation, from the autistic person's perspective. Together, the findings provide evidence for the transformative potential of a collaborative approach to communication for participants with and without autism. The findings also provide insights as to how 'interactional expertise' (Milton 2014 p.795) may be developed and used to support the effective contribution of the voices of autistic people in everyday settings, in research, and during important assessments and other formal interactions that have direct implications on support and wellbeing.
Supervisor: Parsons, Sarah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available