Academic journal article International Education Studies

"I Have Lived an Autism Experience. Autism Is an Interesting Disease": The Life Story of a Young Man with Autism

Academic journal article International Education Studies

"I Have Lived an Autism Experience. Autism Is an Interesting Disease": The Life Story of a Young Man with Autism

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of the study is to describe the life experiences of a young man who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) through a narrative research. In other words, our research aim is to investigate the nature of life and especially the social and school experiences of individual affected by this syndrome.

Data were collected via interviews, meetings, researcher reflections and documents. Inductive approach was used for data analysis. The findings were interpreted and presented into themes. The results were discussed in terms of implications for future research and interventions.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders, narrative research, qualitative methodology

1. Introduction

ASD are developmental disorders characterized by important impairments in social and communication behavior. Although ASD are lifelong developmental disorders, education can lead to improvement in skills. While communication and social interaction difficulties are part of the diagnostic criteria for ASD, some of these individuals (especially, individuals with AS and high-functioning autism) have become capable of conveying their own experiences verbally (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Lovaas, 2003; Müller, Schuler, & Yates, 2008).

There is a large amount of empirical data about individuals with ASD. However, qualitative research examining real life experiences of mainly the young and adults with ASD are relatively limited. Indeed, reliable information can be gained from the individual himself as primary source through these studies. Thus, experiences of individuals with ASD can be seen from ASD perspective. These research lead to opportunities for these individuals to connect with the specialists who try to encourage them. Additionally, findings of the research have a guiding and supporting role for individuals with ASD and the families (Allen, Hill, & Heaton, 2009; Carrington, Templeton, & Papinczak, 2003; Griffith, Totsika, Nash, & Hasting, 2011). Biographies of these individuals often take place in books or other textual accounts (e.g. Grandin, 2011). Also, it can be seen with limited qualitative studies in literature that there are examinations about experiences of individuals with ASD related to different areas. Carrington and Graham (2001), described the life experiences of boys with AS and their mothers via the qualitative study. The other two studies examined the vocational experiences of the adults with ASD as qualitatively (Hurlbutt & Chalmers, 2004; Müller, Schuler, Burton, & Yates, 2003). Some case studies focused on understanding the social experiences of an adolescent with AS (Carrington et al., 2003; Howard, Cohn, & Orsmond, 2006; Müller et al., 2008). MacLeod and Johnston (2007) conducted a case study with a woman to understand the needs of individuals with AS. Also, Lyman (2008) examined the transition experiences of students with AS via a case study design. Allen et al. (2009) conducted an exploratory study in order to describe the experiences of music for adults with ASD. Punshon, Skirrow, and Murphy (2009) used a phenomenological approach to examine the experiences of adults with AS. Another study examined the support services experiences of adults with AS via phenomenological analysis (Griffith et al., 2011). Finally, the other qualitative study focused on the educational experiences of students with ASD (Humphrey & Lewis, 2008).

The purpose of this study is to define and understand the life experiences of a young man with ASD referring to his life story. In other words, the main research aim is to investigate the social and school experiences of him and to find out his perceptions about life. In accordance with this aim, the sub-questions of the study are listed as: (a) What are the effects of autism on a young man who has ASD?, (b) What are the social life experiences of a young man who has ASD?, (c) What are the school experiences of a young man who has ASD? …

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