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An in-depth exploration into secondary school pupils' experiences of having autism spectrum disorder

15 October 2019

Author: Jodi Cooper, Tavistock and Portman NHS trust educational psychology training course


The experiences of young people (YP) with diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are under-represented, despite legislation placing greater emphasis on pupil voice.

Whilst there is a large body of research into professional and parental experiences of children and young people (CYP) with ASD, there is a scarcity of research exploring what it means for YP to live with an ASD diagnosis.

The research presented here is an in-depth exploration into YP’s experiences of having a diagnosis of ASD.

The Grid Elaboration Method (GEM) and semi-structured interviews were carried out with four participants (aged eleven to sixteen years old) across three mainstream secondary schools to elicit their lived experiences of having a diagnosis of ASD. All participants had diagnoses of ASD.

The data was then analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) in an attempt to understand the participants’ experiences. The analysis revealed five overarching themes:

  • ‘Impact of ASD on everyday life’
  • ‘Questioning identity’
  • ‘Relating to others’
  • ‘Emotional response’
  • ‘Where from here?’

The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to the original research question, existing literature and theory, and Educational Psychology practice.

Link to full paper coming soon.


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