Abstract / Description of output
Background: Previous research has often documented that friendship is an area of difficulty for autistic people however this may be caused by a neurotypical understanding of friendship. The current study aimed to adopt a more inclusive account of friendship, involving an autistic participant group representing a range of genders and communication preferences while exploring the following question – What are Autistic adults’ perceptions of friendships? Method: Participants (n = 20) were interviewed using their preferred method of communication (speaking and non-speaking) during 2021-2022. Results: The results showed that three main themes emerged under an overarching theme of A Spectrum of Understanding: Identity with Others, Sharing Value, and Shared Presence. The inclusive approaches used in the current study allowed under-researched autistic groups such as non-speaking autistic people and autistic people who identify as non-binary to participate in meaningful research. Conclusions: The study offers a new perspective on Double Empathy theory (Milton, 2012), suggesting it may be helpful to conceptualise it as a continuum of neuro-cultural learning rather than a distinctive binary centred on an autistic-allistic misunderstanding. Increased understanding of friendships in autistic groups will help to increase awareness of social belonging and support that can protect against poor mental health outcomes.
|Autism in Adulthood
|Accepted/In press - 23 Oct 2023