Getting ready for national service: A preliminary investigation of the perspectives of young autistic pre-enlistees and their caregivers on national service

Pei Yun Chay, Sin Yean Yam, Christopher Cheng Soon Cheok, Iliana Magiati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

As global rates of diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) rise, so too will the number of young adults with ASD who are conscripted into National Service (NS) programs. Given the current lack of studies investigating how NS programs can support and cater to such individuals, and how young people can be supported and prepared for NS, this preliminary cross-sectional mixed methods study aimed to: (a) examine the perspectives on NS of young autistic men prior to their enlistment; and (b) investigate the expected roles of family, schools and NS organisations in supporting individuals with ASD before and during NS. Participants were 13 Singaporean male pre-enlistees with ASD (aged 15-17) and 34 caregivers. Thematic analyses were conducted on participant responses to open ended questions. Overall, autistic participants reported feeling both unprepared and reluctant to serve NS. The thematic analysis identified two main subthemes for both young pre-enlistees and their caregivers: one relating to anticipated opportunities (organized in two subthemes of personal development and social contributions/ relationships); and one focusing on possible anticipated challenges (organized into common NS and ASD-related challenges). Participants hope and expect family, schools and NS organisations to play a substantial role in supporting autistic individuals in preparation for NS and provided several specific recommendations to create an inter-connected network of preparation and support, with NS organisations playing a primary role. Recommendations to improve how NS programs can better support individuals with ASD are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101451
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Volume69
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

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