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School experiences, Autism Spectrum Disorder characteristics, and mental health in females with Asperger syndrome

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 22:26 authored by Belinda JarmanBelinda Jarman, Nadia OllingtonNadia Ollington, Rayner, CS, Kim Beswick
Aim There is evidence to suggest characteristic gender differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Attwood, 2006). Mental health issues, such as anxiety (Sukhodolsky et al., 2008), depression (Portway & Johnson, 2005), disordered eating (Kalyva, 2009), and OCD traits (Ruta, Mungo, D'Arrigo, Vitiello, & Mazzone, 2010) are common in ASD, however little is known about these conditions in relation to the school experiences of females with Asperger syndrome (AS), and how these experiences, and ASD characteristics impact on these issues. The current study aimed to explore how the social and emotional aspects of the school experience impacted females with AS. Method Thirty adult participants and 15 parents of females with AS attending school responded online to open-ended questions about school experiences. Questions were analysed using an inductive reasoning approach adapted from Scuitto et al. (2012). Findings Mental health issues were experienced by 78% of participants; anxiety (67%), depression (42%), and eating disorders (11.1%). Among other daily school struggles, these issues were attributed to routine changes (e.g. transition between activities), uncertainty, and sensory sensitivities (e.g. noise, fluorescent lighting, and discomfort with clothing). Conclusions Inflexible adherence to routines, rigid thinking patterns and reactivity to sensory input in ASD (American Psychological Association, 2013) that influence the experiences of females with AS at school may have a flow on effect to the mental health of females with AS. Awareness of the characteristic features of ASD


Publication title

ASID Conference Proceedings






School of Architecture and Design



Place of publication


Event title

50th Annual ASID conference

Event Venue

Crown Promenade Conference Centre, Southbank Vic

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Date of Event (End Date)


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  • Restricted

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Inclusive education

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