Annelies Foccaert

Thesis title:

A sociolinguistic approach to the identity construction of and medical discourses about women with a late diagnosis of autism.


Autism Spectrum Disorder is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by unusuallyrestricted and repetitive behaviours and interests, and impairments in social communication abilities (Hiller et al. 2016; Lauritsen, 2015). There is some ambiguity over the precise male-female ratio, but in general, more male than female individuals are diagnosed with autism (Lai et al., 2014a), and women receive their diagnosis at a later age than men (Begeer et al., 2013). It has been argued that women are often diagnosed later because the clinical symptoms of autism are expressed differently in females or because of an inherent gender bias in the screening and assessment tools (Baldwin et al., 2016; Kirkovski et al., 2013; Lai et al., 2014b).To date, the vast majority of research on autistic women has been situated within the biomedical fields (Sweileh et al. 2016) and very few linguistic studies on autistic women have researched diagnosis and identity construction. Therefore, there is a need for empirical linguistic approaches to women’s first-hand accounts of the process of receiving a diagnosis of autism. In this PhD, Annelies will primarily draw upon the sociolinguistic framework of small stories (Georgakopoulou, 2007), which advocates the potential of non-canonical stories as information sources on collaborative identity construction and offers an alternative to the common clinical approaches to researching autism.

First supervisor:

Alexandra Georgakopoulou


7 – Linguistics, Media & Culture