Article

'It's being a part of a grand tradition, a grand counter-culture which involves communities': A qualitative investigation of autistic community connectedness

Details

Citation

Botha M, Dibb B & Frost DM (2022) 'It's being a part of a grand tradition, a grand counter-culture which involves communities': A qualitative investigation of autistic community connectedness. Autism. https://doi.org/10.1177/13623613221080248

Abstract
Autistic people report greater comfort socialising and easier communication with each other. Despite autism being stereotypically associated with lack of social motivation, an autistic community has been described briefly in the literature but is not well understood. Autistic community connectedness may play a role in promoting wellbeing for autistic people. This qualitative study involved interviewing autistic individuals (N = 20) in-person, via a video-based platform, a text-based platform or over email to investigate autistic community connectedness. Critical grounded theory tools were used to collect and analyse the data. There were three elements of autistic community connectedness: belongingness, social connectedness and political connectedness. Belongingness referred to the sense of similarity that autistic people experienced with each other. Social connectedness referred to specific friendship participants formed with other autistic people. Political connectedness referred to a connectedness to the political or social equality goals of the autistic community. Participants described the benefits of autistic community connectedness as being increased self-esteem, a sense of direction and a sense of community not experienced elsewhere. Lack of connectedness involved ambivalence with an autistic identity and/or feelings of internalised stigma. Experiences of autistic community connectedness may have implications for autistic people’s wellbeing, as well as how they cope with minority stress.

Keywords
autistic community; belongingness; community; identity; political connectedness; qualitative research; social connectedness; stigma; wellbeing

Notes
Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Journal
Autism

StatusIn Press
FundersESRC Economic and Social Research Council
Publication date online31/03/2022
Date accepted by journal23/03/2022
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/34135
ISSN1362-3613
eISSN1461-7005

People (1)

People

Dr Monique Botha
Dr Monique Botha

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Psychology