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Myths about autism: an exploratory study using focus groups

John, R. P. S., Knott, F. J. and Harvey, K. N. (2017) Myths about autism: an exploratory study using focus groups. Autism. ISSN 1362-3613

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/1362361317714990

Abstract/Summary

Individuals with autism are often stigmatised and isolated by their typically developing peers according to parental, teacher and self-reports. Whilst quantitative studies often report negative attitudes towards individuals with autism, it is still unclear how understandings of autism influence attitudes. In this exploratory study, misconceptions or myths about autism, i.e. the cognitive component of attitudes, were examined using focus groups. Purposive sampling was used to recruit undergraduate and postgraduate students, and adults with and without experience of autism, to one of five focus groups (n = 37). Content analysis was used to identify emergent themes. The data identified seven commonly held beliefs about individuals with autism. The first four were related to social interaction, such as that people with autism do not like to be touched. The fifth reflected the view that all individuals with autism have a special talent and the final two concerned beliefs that people with autism are dangerous. The findings from this study demonstrate that people with varying experience or knowledge of autism often hold inaccurate beliefs about autism. These findings improve our understandings of lay-beliefs about autism, and will aid the development and implementation of interventions designed to improve lay-knowledge of autism.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) Research Network
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:70616
Publisher:Sage

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