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Considering the Autistic advantage in qualitative research: the strengths of Autistic researchers
Contemporary Social Science, Volume: 16, Issue: 5, Pages: 589 - 603
Swansea University Author: Aimee Grant
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Autism is often viewed as an impairment, preventing Autistic individuals from achieving success in the world. We argue that, Autism can be an enhancement, particularly in some professional contexts, including qualitative research. However, Autistic people experience higher rates of unemployment and...
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Autism is often viewed as an impairment, preventing Autistic individuals from achieving success in the world. We argue that, Autism can be an enhancement, particularly in some professional contexts, including qualitative research. However, Autistic people experience higher rates of unemployment and underemployment (lower skills/part-time). The social model of neurodiversity highlights the role of inaccessible workplaces and practices. Alongside this, the concept of the ‘Autistic Advantage', a strengths-based model, emphasises the ways in which Autistic people are assets to the social structures in which they exist. Two late diagnosed Autistic women, acknowledged as qualitative research experts, review the literature on Disability, neurodiversity and research; outline their own professional strengths; discuss their professional strengths in the light of the literature; and make recommendations for Autistic researchers and their neurotypical colleagues. Autistic qualities and preferences can be strengths in qualitative research teams. This includes long periods of concentration (hyperfocus), leading to ‘flow’ and creative thinking, attention to detail, and detailed knowledge of topic areas that are of interest to the individual. We conclude that qualitative research teams can benefit from working inclusively with Autistic researchers. We present guidance to facilitate inclusive working, without which Autistic researchers may be Disabled by their work environment.
Autism, Autistic, qualitative, researchers, reflexivity, positionality
College of Human and Health Sciences