Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


The aim of this study was to engage with adolescent autistic girls to gain their perceptions about social interactions and the navigation of social relationships with their female peers. The unique nature of social experiences of autistic girls and women is an emerging field of interest, particularly during adolescence due to the importance of social relationships with peers during this life stage. However, previous researchers have often focused on comparing the social experiences of autistic girls with those of either autistic boys or neurotypical girls, which could be interpreted as focusing on what autistic girls cannot do, rather than what they can do as a group of individuals with their own skill set.

This study utilised grounded theory to consider autistic girls’ perspectives of their experiences with and navigation of social relationships with the intention to gain better understanding and conceptualisation of autistic girls’ navigation of relationships rather than understanding these in comparison to neurotypical girls or those of autistic boys. An innovative methodology was used in which an online forum was constructed to engage autistic girls in conversation about their social experiences and relationships. Ten adolescent autistic girls ranging in age from 12 to 19 were recruited. Each week of the 12-week data collection period, the girls answered the researcher’s questions, discussed their beliefs and experiences, and chatted to each other.

FoR codes (2008)

130312 Special Education and Disability, 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified, 170102 Developmental Psychology and Ageing



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.