Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

‘Someone like-minded in a big place’: Autistic young adults’ attitudes towards autistic peer support in mainstream education

Crompton, Catherine J; Hallett, Sonny; Axbey, Harriet; McAuliffe, Christine; Cebula, Katie

‘Someone like-minded in a big place’: Autistic young adults’ attitudes towards autistic peer support in mainstream education Thumbnail


Catherine J Crompton

Sonny Hallett

Harriet Axbey
PGR Student Doctor of Philosophy

Christine McAuliffe

Katie Cebula


Autistic young people in mainstream schools often experience low levels of peer social support, have negative perceptions of their differences and feel disconnected from their school community. Previous research findings have suggested that encouraging autistic young people to explore autistic culture and spending time with autistic peers may be associated with more positive outcomes. Autism-specific peer support is a framework that may support this process. Thirteen participants (eight male/five female) completed semi-structured interviews, exploring the idea of autism-specific peer support within mainstream schools and the practicalities of how it may work within a school setting. Thematic analysis was applied, and three themes are reported: (1) neurodiversity and an ethos of inclusivity, (2) flexibility and (3) benefits and challenges of embedding peer support in the wider school community. The idea of autism-specific peer support for autistic pupils in mainstream secondary schools was generally positively received. Peer support may provide a unique opportunity for autistic pupils to interact in a natural, comfortable way; share useful strategies; and build their identities. Nevertheless, careful design, training and ongoing support, alongside awareness of the rights, needs and preferences of individual pupils involved are likely to be crucial in ensuring the success of any peer support programme.


Crompton, C. J., Hallett, S., Axbey, H., McAuliffe, C., & Cebula, K. (2023). ‘Someone like-minded in a big place’: Autistic young adults’ attitudes towards autistic peer support in mainstream education. Autism, 27(1), 76-91.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Mar 5, 2022
Publication Date 2023-01
Deposit Date May 30, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 10, 2023
Journal Autism
Print ISSN 1362-3613
Electronic ISSN 1461-7005
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 1
Pages 76-91


Published Journal Article (201 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)
You are free to:
Share – copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
Adapt – remix, transform, and build upon the material.
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Under the following terms:
Attribution – you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

NonCommercial – you may no use the material for commercial purposes.

No additional restrictions – you may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.


You do not have to comply with the license for elements of the material in the public domain or where your use is permitted by an applicable exception or limitation.
No warranties are given. The license may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations