'I am who i am': Reputation concerns in adolescents on the autism spectrum

Eilidh Cage*, Geoffrey Bird, Liz Pellicano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background Adolescence is often characterised by an increased concern for one's reputation in typical development. The extent to which autistic adolescents are concerned for their reputation, however, is unclear. Method Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 autistic adolescents and five members of school staff to examine reputation concerns in autism. Topics discussed included being 'cool', friendships, worries and self-concepts. Results Thematic analysis revealed that autistic adolescents were sometimes concerned about their reputation, although many reported that they did not want to be cool. Instead, they preferred to be true to themselves and struggled to understand the rules of being cool. Adolescents' difficulties in coping with unpredictability also contributed to their understanding of social rules. Findings were supported by the responses of school staff. Conclusions This study suggests that autistic adolescents can be concerned about their reputation, with some wishing to be accepted for having a reputation for being different.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are very grateful to all of the young people, parents and schools involved in this research. Thanks also to Nora Choque-Olson for assistance with data coding. The work was supported by a Bloomsbury Colleges PhD studentship awarded to the first author. Research at CRAE is also supported by The Clothworkers’ Foundation and Pears Foundation. The funding sources had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis, interpretation, writing or decision to submit.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Adolescence
  • Autism
  • Friendship
  • Reputation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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