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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Dropping out and moving on: A qualitative study of autistic people's experiences of university
Author(s): Cage, Eilidh
Howes, Jack
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Keywords: Higher Education
Autistic adults
Issue Date: Oct-2020
Date Deposited: 11-Mar-2020
Citation: Cage E & Howes J (2020) Dropping out and moving on: A qualitative study of autistic people's experiences of university. Autism, 24 (7), pp. 1664-1675.
Abstract: Autistic people are at high risk of dropping out of university, but little research has examined this issue. Fourteen participants participated in semi-structured interviews examining their experiences at university and the reasons they had dropped out. Thematic analysis identified patterns in participants’ responses. Themes were categorised as systemic issues, challenges within university or life after dropping out. Systemic issues centred around accessing diagnosis, autism understanding, mental health and outsider status. Challenges at university included culture shock, becoming disengaged, lack of proactive support and perceived inevitability of dropping out. Finally, life after dropping out was characterised by processing of trauma and shame, and realisation of doing ‘what’s right for you’. Together, these themes suggest that many improvements could be made at universities, such as more proactive support, and creating more accessible environments. Societal-level change is also needed to improve educational opportunities for autistic people.
DOI Link: 10.1177/1362361320918750
Rights: Cage E & Howes J, Dropping out and moving on: A qualitative study of autistic people's experiences of university, Autism, 24 (7), pp. 1664-1675. Copyright © The Authors 2020. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications. DOI:
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