Supporting Self-efficacy and Self-determination on the Autism Spectrum: Refuting the “Autism Can Be Outgrown” Myth
Over the past 50 years, there has been a great deal of debate about the defining characteristics and future trajectory of autistic children. Although many patterns have been suggested, no definitive biological traits have yet been definitively identified, and diagnosis currently relies on the observable manifestations of restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests, difficulties in social communication and sensory sensitivities. As autistic children grow, however, and particularly as they learn skills to help them cope in different settings, they may exhibit these behavioural characteristics to a much lesser degree than they did when they were young. This has resulted in the myth that autism can be outgrown. This chapter will examine the origins of this myth and will discuss the impact it has had on creating the misperception that autism is something to be overcome. The research on outcomes for autistic individuals at different stages of life will be explored, and an argument will be made for an alternative understanding of their competence. Theories of self-determination and self-efficacy will be examined, and recommendations will be made for supporting autistic people with a range of needs to self-advocate and create their own futures.
KeywordsAutistic adults Perception of competence Self-advocacy and Self-determination Self-efficacy
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