Autism and transition to work: a thematic analysis of service user experiences

Brockwell, Tom (2013) Autism and transition to work: a thematic analysis of service user experiences. DClinPsy thesis, University of Lincoln.

Autism and transition to work: a thematic analysis of service user experiences
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Item Type:Thesis (DClinPsy)
Item Status:Live Archive


This study investigates the experiences of individuals with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) as they experienced transition into employment in the UK. The high prevalence of ASC has led to increased social and economic pressures (Gerhardt & Lainer, 2010), with the estimated yearly cost to the UK for each individual at £90,000 (Knapp, Romeo & Beecham, 2007). Employment may help to reduce economic pressures, benefit individuals and society (Howlin, Alcock & Burkin, 2005). Individual gains in cognitive functioning (García-Villamisar & Hughes, 2007), quality of life and self-esteem (Eggleton et al., 1999) may be experienced. However, individuals with ASC tend to find transitioning to employment difficult, due to implicit characteristics associated with the condition (Berney, 2004). Transitions represent challenges to individuals’ social identity and self-concept, require behaviour change and may contribute to distress (Liddle, Carlson & McKenna, 2004). These factors may be exacerbated in individuals with ASC due to their difficulties with social and behaviour change processes (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2010).
Transition and employment support strategies have been shown to facilitate successful employment for individuals with ASC (Howlin et al., 2005). The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence ([NICE], 2012) propose how best to support people with ASC, based on the synthesis of available evidence. However, the evidence lacks in consideration of individuals’ experiences and psychological theories of support and transition. Considering these perspectives may facilitate service users to influence effective service provision, through disseminating their views and experiences of transition to work by means of a rigorous qualitative study.
This study investigates the experiences of 10 participants with ASC during their transition to employment settings in the UK and aims to provide them with a platform to express their experiences and views of this process. An inductive thematic analysis methodology (Braun & Clarke, 2006) is used to explore semantic information obtained from retrospective interviews relating to the experiences of transition to work and identify frequent and salient themes within the data (Buetow, 2010).
Analysis identified three main themes that were particularly salient and frequent for the interviewed participants:
Diagnosis; comprised of subthemes ‘Access to support’, ‘Identifying with ASC’, ‘Other-understanding’ and ‘Delay in diagnosis’.
Barriers to transition; comprised of ‘Socio-economics’, ‘Physical accessibility’ and ‘ASC characteristics’.
Transition support; comprised of ‘Emotional needs’, ‘Clear guidance and honest feedback’, ‘Practical support’ and ‘Social integration’.
Thematic analysis facilitated investigation into the experiences of 10 participants with ASC as they transitioned to work. Participants’ difficulties and needs were reflected in the existing evidence base and aims of current legislation and guidance, but short-comings in the delivery of these were also highlighted. In addition, a unique insight into both the positive and negative emotional impact of transition to work for individuals with ASC was obtained. Psychological models of support and transition are considered in relation to the experiences of transition and associated challenges to self-concept. Potential support measures for more effective and less distressing transition to work are discussed.

Keywords:Autism, Transition, Employment, Work, Thematic analysis
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C840 Clinical Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:18954
Deposited On:07 Oct 2015 15:44

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