Exploring the Service Experiences of Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Mixed-Methods Study
Tint, Ami Estelle
MetadataShow full item record
Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have complex service needs across the lifespan. The specific experiences of women with ASD, however, remain largely unknown. This concurrent mixed-methods dissertation consists of one quantitative study and one qualitative study examining the service experiences of women with ASD; integration occurred in a separate deductive, latent-level analysis. Study 1 used data from the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance National Needs Survey, and provides a descriptive analysis of lifetime service use, unmet service needs, and barriers to care of a sample of Canadian adults with ASD, the majority of whom did not report a co-occurring intellectual disability (ID). Few significant sex/gender differences emerged, with the exception of mental health and residential services. However, a number of significant associations between service outcome variables and micro, meso, and exo system factors were found. Study 2 is a qualitative study comprised of five focus groups of 20 women with ASD without ID with discussions centered on their service use, unmet service needs, and barriers to care. Overall, women emphasized high unmet service needs, particularly with respect to mental health concerns, residential supports, and vocational and employment services. Participants also perceived many service providers as disregarding or misunderstanding the female presentation of ASD and associated unique service needs. Results from the two studies were integrated in a latent level analysis, incorporating ecological and postcolonial feminist frameworks. The projects findings are discussed in relation to areas of future research required to ensure effective care for this understudied population.