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Autistic community connectedness as a buffer against the effects of minority stress.

Botha, M (2020) Autistic community connectedness as a buffer against the effects of minority stress. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.

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Abstract

This thesis aimed to investigate the role of minority stress (MS) and autistic community connectedness (ACC) on mental health (MH) and wellbeing in the autistic community. Multiple methods were used, across four studies. Study one consisted of a qualitative study using grounded theory tools to create a measure of ACC, as none existed. The findings indicated that ACC compromises of three sub-domains – belongingness, social, and political connectedness. Stigma and identity both informed the level of ACC experienced by participants. In study two, a measure of ACC was created and validated in a new sample of autistic individuals (N = 133) using confirmatory factor analysis to test factor-structure and for item purification. Results indicated factorial, convergent and discriminant validity, for a 10-item scale. Studies three and four consisted of a cross-sectional and longitudinal survey where 195 autistic and 181 non-autistic people completed questionnaires at baseline and 99 autistic participants completed measures nine months later at follow-up. Resilience resources, ACC, MH and wellbeing, and MS were measured both times. Study three showed that the differences in MH, wellbeing, and resilience resources between the autistic and non-autistic sample persisted beyond demographics and general stress. Higher MS predicted lower MH and wellbeing, while ACC moderated the relationship between MS and MH, ameliorating the effects of MS. The longitudinal study (study four) showed that higher MS scores at baseline were associated with worse MH and wellbeing nine-months later, while higher ACC was associated with better MH and wellbeing. The results suggest a model of ACC and MS whereby autistic people may experience differing levels of ACC depending on experiences of stigma and autistic identity. This ACC in turn moderates the impact of MS on MH.These findings and implications of the research are further integrated into autism, MS, MH, and community literature.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Botha, M0000-0002-5935-9654
Date : 30 April 2020
Funders : School of Psychology, University of Surrey
DOI : 10.15126/thesis.00854098
Contributors :
ContributionNameEmailORCID
http://www.loc.gov/loc.terms/relators/THSDibb, Bridgetb.dibb@surrey.ac.uk
http://www.loc.gov/loc.terms/relators/THSRusconi, Patricep.rusconi@surrey.ac.uk
http://www.loc.gov/loc.terms/relators/THSFrost, Davidd.frost@surrey.ac.uk
Uncontrolled Keywords : Autism, minority stress, stigma, discrimination, community connectedness, mental health, wellbeing, resilience
Depositing User : Monique Botha
Date Deposited : 19 May 2020 15:28
Last Modified : 20 May 2020 07:28
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/854098

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