This research project aims to qualitatively explore the lived experiences and impact of late-diagnosis/identification in autistic women and consider the potential positive impact of a connection with the natural environment. The diagnostic structure of and common cultural perceptions of Autism Spectrum Disorder/Autism Spectrum Condition (ASD is the term described in the biomedical DSM-5, ASC is a term more widely accepted within the autistic community) has been angled towards the male perspective and there has been a tendency towards negating the female experience, resulting in later diagnosis and fewer support structures. Recent research has considered that autism can present differently in women.
Natural connections have the potential for positive impact in this search for strategies for sensory overwhelm or sensory connection, validation and insight into reviewing often decades of lived experiences. Environmental anthropological theories have considered how the natural relationship can have an impact personal identity.
The research project aims to:
- Identify if a late-stage ASD diagnosis creates a liminal experience of narrative re-alignment and shift in personal history and if so, how does this manifest itself?
- Investigate how this phenomenological subjective experience may contrast with current diagnostic and common cultural perceptions of ASD.
- Evaluate the potential role of connections with a natural environment and compare the potential impact of this as strategies for managing the impact of ASD traits and self-acceptance.
The paper will review how the cultural notions of autism may be subjective from a phenomenological anthropology perspective. Women have had a tendency of later diagnosis due to the diagnostic and common cultural conception of the behaviours and symptoms related to autism.
The project explores an understanding of phenomenology, relativism and a search for personal discourse/agency. This provides the scope for a detailed analysis of the lived experience and an improved understanding of the factors involved.