Mattie Kendall, MSc Social and Cultural Psychology
I grew up in Hornsey, North London. I was a cohort of LSE’s Social and Cultural Psychology MSc; I was attracted to the course partly because of my undergraduate degree in Sociology. For my master’s degree, I wanted to do a different course from just straight Sociology, but didn’t want it to be too far away from that discipline. This course allowed me to continue, and build upon. my interest in the ways in which culture and society shape people’s various thoughts, behaviours and relations. I am currently looking for a career in a research-based role.
“I don’t want to be seen by them as someone with ‘problems’, I want to be seen as a fun, intelligent sex goddess!”: An Examination of How Autistic Women Use Blogs to Represent Their Autism.
Supervisor: Cathy Nicholson
Currently in the UK, women are more likely to be diagnosed later with autism. Researchers and academics have provided various reasons for why these women may be missed, but have not found a definitive answer. Alongside this, autistic women lack representation, in both society and in academic work. One solution for this, is to observe more first-person accounts of what it is like to be a woman with autism. I suggest that one way of doing this is through observing how autistic women use blogs, to represent their autism and their lived experience; as blogs make harder to reach groups easier to access. They also allow them to be more open about their autism, and are an unused resource. Firstly, we will observe literature surrounding first-person accounts of autistic women, as well as how other groups use blogs; as there is a lack of research into how autistic women use blogs. While the literature examined is a small sample; it gives us the idea that we need to listen to more first-person accounts from autistic women, as well as how blogs can be an important resource for neglected groups. Secondly, despite intending originally to conduct interviews; I decided to use blogs. Employing a blog which listed autism focused blogs; I found ten blogs, and took five posts from each to make in total fifty posts; accounting for gender, age and location. I then used a thematic analysis to get my main themes from these. Four dominant themes emerged, “Identity”, “Difficulties Navigating a Neurotypical World”, “Mental Health” and “Diagnosis”. Overall, it was found that autistic women generally represented their autism positively, but felt let down by the neurotypical world around them. Incorporating Social Identity Theory, it is suggested that our attitudes surrounding autism need to change, as autistic women generally felt excluded or looked down upon from others in society. It is hoped that by doing so, we can improve the diagnosis rates, as well as the care, these women receive. Similarly, it also provides an argument for why blogs should be considered a more useful research tool in social research.