Gemma Foxall

Author Identifier

Gemma Foxall

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Lorraine Hammond

Second Supervisor

Dr Christina Gray

Third Supervisor

Dr Ffion Murphy


The structure of this thesis is twofold: a creative work and exegesis. The creative work is a book entitled When Autism Strikes, and documents my family's journey into the world of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the actions taken to reduce the disabling features of my son's diagnosis. The text is supplemented with commentary sections, presenting information gathered from my professional and personal experiences.

The creative work uses the writing genre known as Creative Nonfiction and shares scenes over the course of one year in the characters’ lives. Character development and first person dialogue create an emotive narrative to link together clinical disciplines not usually integrated in published work. Relevant in-text links to academic literature and references are cited at the end of each of the three parts, so that readers are supported to learn more about significant publications. Key features of Autism Spectrum Disorder that underpin the clinical diagnostic terms are incorporated into the story to demonstrate the complexity and broadness of the condition.

Whilst the creative work has implicit discussion points and messages, the exegesis explicitly explores and reviews the issues highlighted in the creative work. The methodology underpinning this research is Practice-based research, and sourced data according to the four perspectives I bring to the project, that of: therapist, researcher, parent and teacher. The evolution of the research design is discussed in the exegesis and how data were presented to produce the creative work. When Autism Strikes communicates information in a new way, thereby creating a novel contribution to the academic community, and pending future publication, the broader audience for whom it is written.