Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines
Literature on experiences of males with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continue to thrive within the scientific community, leaving little to none for females. Females are often left undiagnosed as they are better at masking social deficits compared to male counterparts. To counter this male bias among clinical assessments, this study explores the lived experiences of 4 female college students and 1 female college graduate. All 5 participants are Filipina, and were found through purposive snowball sampling in a span of 4 months. Data was collected using a semi-structured interview guide, and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Analyses show that the accounts of Filipina college students with ASD may be better understood through four main themes: (1) a surge of emotions after finding out their condition, (2) managing the impact of their condition, (3) adapting to the various features of a college setting, and (4) having a secure female identity. Due to the gender roles for females that vary according to a specific country’s background and context, proper awareness on female identity during the teenage years - a time of physiological and social transition - proves to be useful. There is also a need for more resources to educate the individual of her condition, as all five interviewees were surprised upon discovering the presence of ASD. Clinicians must advise parents on techniques that would help their daughters become aware of their symptomatologies, and proper parenting and family dynamics must be present as it is crucial for a daughter’s drive to continue pursuing college and the workforce. Because there is currently little progress on inclusivity within the campus (all participants had expressed feelings of isolation regarding the management of their condition), findings from this study may help foster informed programs for colleges and institutions who welcome individuals with ASD.
Autism Spectrum Disorder, college, female, IPA, lived experiences, higher education, inclusive education