Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Being and becoming

Electronic data

  • 2017vincentphd

    Final published version, 1.98 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Being and becoming: transition from higher education for emerging adults on the autism spectrum

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2017
Number of pages236
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis uncovers the experiences of transition from higher education for emerging adults - students and recent graduates - on the autism spectrum and explores their aspirations for the future. Evidence suggests that the number of students disclosing an autism spectrum diagnosis to their higher education institution in the UK has greatly increased in recent years and whilst there is a growing body of evidence which investigates the pre-induction needs of this population, there is a paucity of research which explores their experience in making the transition from higher education. A sample of twenty-one emerging adults (n=10 students and n=11 recent graduates) on the autism spectrum participated in the study where qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews and visual life-maps, were utilised to develop an in-depth and contextualised understanding of post-graduate transition from eight higher education institutions across England.

This study makes an original contribution to the field by offering a theorisation of transition for emerging adults on the autism spectrum as a complex phenomenon experienced across practical, psychological and philosophical domains. Three broad aspirational destinations – occupational, relational and personal – were identified for this population, with successful transition to each being affected by both distal and proximal capacities and resources. By understanding autism in terms of neurodiversity rather than deficits, this study demonstrates the enabling effects contextual factors can have with respect to the differences experienced by autistic people making the transition from higher education. The findings from this thesis have implications for higher education, employers and service-providers regarding policy and practice, particularly with respect to improving transitional support for emerging adults on the autism spectrum making the transition from university.