‘Pioneers of professional frontiers’ : the experiences of autistic students and professional work based learning

Sullivan, J 2021, '‘Pioneers of professional frontiers’ : the experiences of autistic students and professional work based learning' , Disability and Society .

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Universities have embraced a culture of inclusivity and diversity when recruiting students for professional degrees (degree study that is likely to result in accreditation to a profession-specific body). Gender, ethnicity, background and disability should no longer be considered a barrier to the offer to undertake study within a HE institution. Students identified as autistic are part of this group; however, anecdotally, when undertaking work-based learning (WBL), attrition rates are high. This phenomenological study examined the WBL experiences of undergraduate students identified as autistic who have chosen professional degree study. Despite the demonstration of immense personal attributes that any profession would value, this group faces discrimination and stereotyping of their persona. Research was conducted with participants all identified as autistic; drawn from a range of undergraduate professional degrees: policing, teaching, journalism, social work and psychology. A number of themes emerged that offer insight into the barriers for success for these individuals, and the personal cost of being autistic in organisations heavily influenced by a deficit model of disability.
Points of interest This work examines the experiences of autistic university students on work-based learning placements as part of a professional degree.
This research includes only the voices of autistic individuals, describing their experiences and the challenges they faced, rather than the thoughts and opinions of those who support students.
This work offers insight into the prejudice faced by autistic individuals wanting to enter a graduate profession, the challenges they face, the efforts they make to appear ‘normal’ and the constant need to explain themselves in order to ‘fit in’.
This research suggests that students with autism can be of great benefit to their chosen profession.
Autistic individuals display a strong work ethic, pushing against boundaries and displaying the courage to stand up and make a professional difference to other people’s lives.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Journal or Publication Title: Disability and Society
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
ISSN: 0968-7599
Related URLs:
Depositing User: USIR Admin
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2021 10:55
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 17:05
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/62365

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