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A qualitative comparison of perceived stress and coping in adolescents with and without autistic spectrum disorders as they approach leaving school

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During the research reported in this article, differences in perceived stress and coping between adolescents with and without autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) were examined by a series of interviews. Emphasis was placed on examining the issue with regard to the prospective transition at the point of leaving secondary education. Ten pupils with autism and seven without any identified disorder were interviewed. The participants with ASD indicated worry about specific objects and social relations; demonstrated a lack of external expression of their stress; and indicated a reliance on self, rather than others, for help. Those with ASD also indicated more concerns regarding items not affecting their education and were self-admittedly poor at dealing with both current and future stress. Participants without a disorder were far more concerned with their education and outlined different methods of stress management. James Browning, an Educational Psychologist in training, Dr Lisa A. Osborne, a Research Fellow in the Learning and Adaptive Behaviour Group, in the Department of Psychology at Swansea University, and Professor Phil Reed, the Director of the Learning and Adaptive Behaviour Group, in the Department of Psychology at Swansea University, suggest that these differences should be addressed and argue that the further incorporation of techniques to improve coping with stress may ease the transition from school for students with ASD.
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Keywords: autism; coping; interviews; stress management; transition education

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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