The self-identified positive attributes and favourite activities of children on the autism spectrum
Megan Clark & Dawn Adams
Background: When autism is viewed through a deficit lens the strengths, positive attributes and interests of individuals on the spectrum can be overshadowed. A strengths-based focus counteracts the deficit view that is traditionally associated with developmental disabilites. More strength-based research is needed in the field to shift the emphasis from difficulties, to the positive attributes and interests of individuals on the autism spectrum.
Method: Eighty-three children on the autism spectrum (aged 8 to 15 years) responded to the following questions: “What do you like most about yourself?”, “What are you absolutely best at?” and “What do you enjoy the most?”
Results: Similar responses were collated into themes within the data using content analysis. When asked “What do you like most about yourself?” a good friend or person to be around (n = 15; 18.5 %) and I am good at particular things (n = 14; 16.8 %) were the most common themes. Children identified that they were “absolutely best at” physical activity (n = 20; 24 %) and maths/ science (n = 13; 15.6 %). Overall, technology and gaming (n = 42; 50.6 %) and social interaction were the most endorsed themes (n = 29; 34.9 %) in response to “What do you enjoy most?”
Conclusions: Self-report studies provide individuals on the autism spectrum with a much-needed opportunity to express and share their attributes, strengths and interests with others, adding their voice to the literature. Further work is needed to explore the impact of such positive self-descriptions on an individual’s positive sense of self and self-confidence.