An exploration of the self-disclosure process for young people with autism
Pares Landells, Jessica
Date: 26 May 2016
University of Exeter
DEdPsych in Educational Child and Community Psychology
The aim of the first phase of the research was to explore the self-disclosure process for children on the autistic spectrum. Self-disclosure refers to the process of an individual with autism telling others about their diagnosis. I wanted to find out what self-disclosure involved in schools and what support had been in place to create ...
The aim of the first phase of the research was to explore the self-disclosure process for children on the autistic spectrum. Self-disclosure refers to the process of an individual with autism telling others about their diagnosis. I wanted to find out what self-disclosure involved in schools and what support had been in place to create an environment where self-disclosure was considered appropriate. I thought it would be important to explore what sort of impact self-disclosure had on those involved. Case studies were carried out in order to explore the self-disclosure process in depth. Four participants (aged 13-16) from two mainstream secondary schools who had self-disclosed their autism to their peers participated in semi-structured interviews. These interviews were set up to gain an in-depth understanding of self-disclosure. I interviewed parents and staff from the schools in order to gain different perspectives of the impact of the self-disclosure process. The interviews were analysed thematically. Emerging themes from these interviews showed that self-disclosure had occurred as a result of young people feeling different and wanting to explain their differences. The self-disclosure in all cases was considered to increase understanding of autism through education both for the individual with autism and the peers they self-disclosed to. Increased understanding of autism led to an improved sense of self for the individual with autism and a positive change in behaviour and attitude of the individual’s peers. The interviews also provided some understanding of the factors that supported self-disclosure. The factors were incorporated into a model which was then used in the second phase of the research to support children with autism in the process of self-disclosure. Overall, this process supported children in gaining a more positive sense of self and educated those around them about their personal strengths.
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