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Browsing by Subject "naamioiminen"

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  • Toikka, Joanna (2022)
    Aim. The aim of this study was to examine the experiences of adults on the autism spectrum of being themselves and the factors related to masking in higher education and transitioning to working life. Previous studies have shown that many people on the autism spectrum feel the need to mask their characteristics typical of the autism spectrum. It has been found that masking can have negative effects on the mental health and wellbeing of the person who masks. This study reveals the experiences of adults on the autism spectrum of being themselves and which factors are related to masking. Methods. The data of the study consisted of the interviews collected for the international IMAGE project. The participants were adults on the autism spectrum from Finland (n=7) and the United Kingdom (n=5). The data was analyzed in the phenomenological framework using qualitative, data-driven content analysis. Results and conclusions. The results showed that the diagnosis of autism spectrum was reported mainly for a specific reason, not spontaneously. Experiences of being accepted ranged from positive to negative, and it was particularly challenging to be oneself in extracurricular activities. Three themes emerged in the factors related to masking. First, masking and openness on the other hand were associated with the concern about their consequences: participants considered possible negative consequences on job search, other people and themselves. Another factor related to masking was social environment. Masking increased when the person on the autism spectrum did not know their company, while knowledge about the autism spectrum and friendly attitude reduced it. What is more, one’s own opinion of the autism spectrum was related to masking. A positive attitude towards the autism spectrum reduced the need for masking, while one's own or others' negative experiences of being open about the autism spectrum increased its hiding. In higher education and workplaces, it would be important to reinforce factors that increase the possibility for the people on the autism spectrum to be themselves and not mask if they wish so.