An investigation into camouflaging behaviour in pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder and its impact on their education, from the perspective of their parents

  • Fionuala Boyle

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctorate in Educational, Child and Adolescent Psychology


There is very little research which focuses on the impact of camouflaging behaviour on the education of adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), from the perspective of parents. This research was a mixed methods study which sought to explore this topic in a population of parents who have children with an ASD diagnosis who attend post-primary school in Northern Ireland (NI). For the quantitative phase, participants were accessed through schools, ASD charities, parent-led groups and through the Queens University School of Psychology Twitter page. Participants were then offered the opportunity to take part in semi-structured interviews. Fifty-six questionnaires and seven interviews were completed. Descriptive and inferential statistics were employed to present the quantitative data and qualitative data was analysed using Thematic Analysis. Resulting themes reflected previous research findings in this field. Additional findings were that young people sought to hide their educational needs and that females may have employed more deliberate camouflaging strategies than males. Parents also saw themselves as having a role to play in their children’s education and they viewed communication and collaboration as key. Implications of this research are that post-primary school staff may benefit from ASD training and that acceptance of diversity should be promoted within post-primary schools. It may be helpful for school staff to support students with ASD to manage their exhaustion and they could utilise the expert knowledge of parents.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorPatricia Davison (Supervisor) & Aoibhe Kieran (Supervisor)


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • ASD
  • adolescent
  • camouflaging
  • masking
  • compensation
  • assimilation

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