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Title: How do young children on the autistic spectrum make sense of themselves? : a thematic analysis
Author: Easton, Rebekah L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 3454
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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Introduction: In order to understand how young people who have a diagnosis of an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) make sense of themselves it is important to take a developmental perspective from early years into adulthood. However, most of the research literature on self-concept in young people with ASC neglects younger children. Objective: This study sought to explore how younger children with an ASC make sense of themselves, while also considering the social aspect of self-concept. Participants: One girl and five boys (aged 5-7 years), who had received a diagnosis of an ASC without cognitive impairment, or another comorbid diagnosis, were invited to take part in two activity-orientated semi-structured interviews. Design: Transcripts were analysed using Thematic Analysis focusing on the content in the children's interviews that related to their self-concept. Findings: Three themes (with 4 subthemes) emerged that related to self-concept; the personal-self (personal qualities & physical appearance), the emotional-self (managing & communicating feelings) and the social-self (making sense of the self in relation to others). Conclusions: Although clinicians tend to focus on differences, these findings suggest that children with ASC perceive themselves to have many commonalities with their neurotypical peers. This insight may be helpful for families when receiving a diagnosis of ASC as well as for educators when creating inclusive environments and providing ongoing support to a child throughout their education. Further research should explore factors that may affect the development of self-concepts such as culture and gender.
Supervisor: Gleeson, Kate Sponsor: NHS Surrey & Borders (University of Surrey)
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral