“Hold Me Tight So I Can Go It Alone”: Developmental Themes for Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Abstract

Although research shows that young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) struggle with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other co-occurring psychiatric disorders, their psychological development through emerging adulthood remains understudied. To explore relevant developmental themes for young adults with ASD while subscribing to a social-constructionist epistemology, we interviewed young adults with ASD and their mental health care professionals individually, and organized focus groups with their parents in a multiperspective design. Developmental themes were identified using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Despite a substantial body of research considering lack of social motivation, a central ASD characteristic, narratives were remarkably socially oriented. This article discusses the overarching themes of (a) searching for balance and negotiating ASD and (b) searching for suitable surroundings in different areas of life, as well as their implications for clinical practice.

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