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Title: Conceptualising and measuring social camouflaging in autism
Author: Hull, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 5238
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Camouflaging has been proposed as a behaviour used by autistic individuals, particularly females, to minimise the appearance of autistic characteristics during social interactions. However, little is known about how autistic individuals camouflage and there are few validated measures of camouflaging. There is inconsistent evidence as to whether females camouflage more than males. This thesis addressed these issues by developing a conceptual model of camouflaging, developing and validating a self-report measure of camouflaging, and examining preliminary gender differences in camouflaging. Six studies using qualitative and quantitative methods were undertaken. Study 1 used meta-analysis and systematic review to conclude that associated characteristics of autism may be expressed in unique ways in autistic females, forming a female autism phenotype. Autistic adults' reported experiences of camouflaging were used to develop a conceptual model of camouflaging, from which future hypotheses can be derived (Study 2). In Study 3, a self-report measure of camouflaging behaviours (the Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire; CAT-Q) was developed from autistic adults' reported camouflaging strategies, and was validated in a large online sample of autistic and non-autistic males and females. Gender differences in adults' camouflaging were examined in Study 4. Studies 5 and 6 further investigated the validity of the CAT-Q, in an adolescent sample. The CAT-Q was found to predict camouflaging success (Study 5), and some potential cognitive mechanisms underlying camouflaging were identified (Study 6). These studies also included preliminary investigations of gender differences in camouflaging success and its underlying mechanisms. In summary, camouflaging involves compensation for and masking of autistic behaviours, and fitting in with others. A valid self-report measure of camouflaging has been developed, and has demonstrated greater camouflaging in autistic females than males. This suggests camouflaging may form part of the female autism phenotype, with differential impacts for diagnosis and outcomes for males and females.
Supervisor: Mandy, W. ; Petrides, K. V. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available