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University of Toronto
1. Vuletic, Ljiljana. Living in Two Worlds: Intentional Personal Development of Autistic Individuals.
Degree: 2010, University of Toronto
Despite an increased interest in autism over the last decades, little research exists about life outcomes of autistic adults. The earliest follow-up studies of autistic individuals suggested that self- understanding and conscious efforts to change could be crucial factors in successfully reaching good life outcomes. However, these initial suggestions have not been further investigated. Therefore, this exploratory qualitative study examined the lives of eight highfunctioning autistic adults aged 25 to 63, from their own perspectives, through in-depth, semistructured interviews, to consider the relation of self-understanding and conscious efforts to change—in this study referred to as intentional personal development—to their life outcomes. All participants demonstrated a level of self-understanding beyond what would be predicted by current theoretical models of autism. Their self-understanding was assessed through participants’ self-definitions, meaning-making of life experiences, and understanding of emotions. In their self-definitions, the participants emphasized their abilities and personality characteristics, rather than their disabilities. For their self-defining memories, as indicators of their meaning making of life experiences, most participants chose positive experiences related to their personal development. Their autobiographical accounts revealed that most participants possess a large iii repertoire of emotion words, supporting an understanding of emotions. When a good life outcome is defined traditionally—as being employed, living independently, and having social relationships—this study, contrary to expectations, did not provide overwhelming evidence for the significant role of intentional personal development in achieving this. However, when a good life outcome is defined in terms of achieving personal excellence, then the study did provide confirmation of intentionality as important to attaining good life outcomes. This study therefore suggests that traditional life outcome measures are inadequate for assessing the life outcomes of autistic individuals because such measures do not take into account the individuals’ own sense of satisfaction with themselves and with their lives.
PhDAdvisors/Committee Members: Ferrari, Michel, Human Development and Applied Psychology.
Subjects/Keywords: Autism; High-functioning autism; Asperger syndrome; Adults; Life outcomes; Life-experiences; Self-understanding; Intentional personal development; Future orientation; Meaning making; Emotional understanding; Positive psychology; Strengths and Weaknesses; First-person perspective; Life satisfaction
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APA (6th Edition):
Vuletic, L. (2010). Living in Two Worlds: Intentional Personal Development of Autistic Individuals. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Toronto. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26254
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
Vuletic, Ljiljana. “Living in Two Worlds: Intentional Personal Development of Autistic Individuals.” 2010. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Toronto. Accessed September 22, 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26254.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
Vuletic, Ljiljana. “Living in Two Worlds: Intentional Personal Development of Autistic Individuals.” 2010. Web. 22 Sep 2020.
Vuletic L. Living in Two Worlds: Intentional Personal Development of Autistic Individuals. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Toronto; 2010. [cited 2020 Sep 22]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26254.
Council of Science Editors:
Vuletic L. Living in Two Worlds: Intentional Personal Development of Autistic Individuals. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Toronto; 2010. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26254