Community social participation in young adults with autism spectrum disorder in North and Central Texas: A multiple-case qualitative study



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Young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have post-secondary needs for community social participation opportunities and services. Limited research exists in the occupational therapy literature exploring social participation in autistic adults. The purpose of this multiple-case study was to understand the social participation experiences of young adults with ASD in their community. A group of young adults with ASD in a geographic location in Texas comprised the case unit of analysis. Two cases of Central Texas and North Texas were included in this study. The theoretical framework of the research study consisted of the occupational adaptation theory. Data sources included emailed answers, semi-structured individual interviews, and documents of local community activities for autistic young adults. The within-case study analysis blended interpretive phenomenological analysis for both participant interviews and emails and document analysis for documents of social participation activities in each community. A case description of each case incorporated participant profiles, the context, the types of activities of participants in context, and the themes presented in alignment with the research questions. A cross-case analysis of both cases compared results from each case. Flexibility in the multiple-case research design provided in-depth insight into autistic young adults within their community context. The results from qualitative personal accounts highlight the overall complexity of a combination of the community context, the immediate environment, the person’s internal experience, and the interactions that all influence community participation for autistic young adults. Conclusions describe findings in relation to the overall research questions and subquestions of experiences in social participation in each community and how the experiences compared, including how autistic young adults found meaning in community social participation, supports, and barriers within their communities in Texas. Discussion includes connections to occupational adaptation theory, implications for occupational therapy practice and research, along with recommendations for how occupational therapy practitioners can address community social participation for autistic young adults.



Autism Spectrum Disorder, Young Adults, Social Participation, Community Participation