The Impact of Socio-Cultural Values on Autistic Women: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
It is well recognised that culture plays an important role in how people experience the world. However, there is limited knowledge on the impact of socio-cultural norms and values on the lives of autistic women. This qualitative study used individual semi-structured interviews to explore how eight cis-gendered autistic women, without co-occurring intellectual disabilities, describe dominant socio-cultural beliefs, values and norms and their influence on their own sense of self. Findings elucidated three interdependent themes related to the ‘pervasive influence of cultural values’; ‘individualisation as an autistic woman’; and ‘social connectivity'. Autistic women described how they experienced their environments and made choices about their place within the dominant culture and the impact of these decisions on their identities and experience. The findings of this study have implications for the continued need to shift societal and clinical attitudes towards understanding and appreciating diversity amongst autistic women.