ERIC Number: EJ1090903
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Oct
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 73
Sense of Belonging and Life Transitions for Two Females with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Finland
Pesonen, Henri V.; Kontu, Elina K.; Pirttimaa, Raija A.
Journal of International Special Needs Education, v18 n2 p73-86 Oct 2015
Sense of belonging refers to the degree to which individuals feel included, accepted, and supported by others in a variety of social settings. This study, based on the narratives of two females (ages 26 and 29) with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), examines sense of belonging and various life transition issues that may appear throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood in the absence of appropriate social supports. Hearing the voices of females with autism is important, because the number of girls diagnosed with ASD has grown. Women on the spectrum can potentially provide significant insights into the services required to feel a sense of belonging to society. Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews and document data revealed that a lack of social support can increase the number of transitions and cause biases in forming a sense of belonging. The findings suggest that a sense of belonging can fade or simmer (evolving through a person's life), and that providing social assistance and positive life experiences during emerging adulthood (ages 18-25) seems to matter most in forming a strong sense of belonging. The narrative accounts of the participants hypothetically suggest that adapting one's behavior in order to feel a sense of belonging might be associated with hiding the unique characteristics of one's ASD. The findings also highlight the need to develop social supports and make these more visible to individuals with ASD, as well as to the entire community. More specific practical implications are discussed.
Descriptors: Females, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Autism, Social Support Groups, Social Indicators, Life Satisfaction, Semi Structured Interviews, Qualitative Research, Individual Development, Social Experience, Content Analysis, Self Determination, Disclosure, Foreign Countries
Division of International Special Education and Services, Council for Exceptional Children. Web site: http://www.jisne.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Finland