Supporting Autistic Students: Understanding Drop Out, Camouflaging and First Impressions

Dr Eilidh Cage

(Lecturer in Psychology | University of Stirling, UK)


Friday, 6 March 2020 @ 4pm|
Seminar room (5th floor) |
62 Hillhead Street, Glasgow G12 8QB


Autistic students are at higher risk of dropping out of university, yet this risk is little understood. In this research, quantitative and qualitative methods were used to examine (a) the different factors that may relate to university completion for autistic people and (b) the experiences of autistic people who had dropped out of university. Quantitative findings indicated that social and academic challenges, and in particular finding the transition to university difficult, contributed to the risk of dropping out. Qualitative findings identified several systemic issues – such as difficulties accessing diagnosis and poor autism understanding – as well as specific challenges within university – such as culture shock and a lack of proactive support. This talk will also touch upon other research findings regarding camouflaging (hiding or masking the fact one is autistic) and first impressions (how autistic people are perceived by non-autistic people on first meeting), and how these apply to the Higher Education context. Together, these findings suggest there is still a long way to go to ensure equal opportunities for autistic students.

About the speaker:

Dr Eilidh Cage completed her PhD at the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) at the UCL Institute of Education. She worked as a Lecturer (Teaching-Focused) at Royal Holloway, University of London (2015-2019) before starting as a Lecturer at the University of Stirling in January 2020. Her research interests focus primarily on the experiences of autistic adolescents and adults. For example, she is interested in camouflaging behaviours, autism acceptance (both in terms of from self and others), mental health in autism and the experiences of autistic students at university. You can follow her on Twitter: @DrEilidh