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School of Arts and Humanities


Edith Cowan University


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has generated much research interest in recent times due to a soaring increase in diagnosis rates and a movement to recognise ASD as a cognitive style, rather than a cognitive deficit. Psychologists are responsible for the timely and accurate diagnosis of ASD and supporting clients on the spectrum with general mental health care. Undergraduate psychology students may go on to further study to become registered psychologists or choose to pursue other careers in mental health care and support work in which they will likely have contact with members of the autistic community. However, little research into the attitudes towards and knowledge of autism in psychology students in Australia has been conducted. In this exploratory study, 1st year (n=23) and 3rd year (n=64) undergraduate psychology students were surveyed, and the results compared to see if a significant difference exists between cohorts. That is, to ascertain if attitudes towards and knowledge of autism improved in students studying an undergraduate psychology major. Results indicated that there was no significant difference in knowledge and attitudes towards autism between the 1st and 3rd year student cohorts. Implications for psychology students, universities, the autistic population, and the future direction of research in this area are discussed.



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