Is disclosing an autism spectrum disorder in school associated with reduced stigmatization?

Rhianna White, Manuela Barreto, Jean Harrington, Steven K. Kapp, Jennie Hayes, Ginny Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined whether telling peers about a pupil’s diagnosis of autism at school made a difference to their reactions to them. Others have studied this topic, but it is unclear whether disclosing or withholding an autism diagnosis is best in school. Our study tested the effect of disclosing an autism diagnosis on how much distance adolescent pupils wanted to keep socially, and how much they felt the autistic pupil was responsible for their own behaviour. Our study was the first we know of to look at this in a UK school. We found disclosing an autism diagnosis did not make adolescents more willing to interact or spend time with or feel more positively towards the autistic pupil. Disclosing did reduce how much others thought the autistic pupil was responsible for their own behaviour. Based on our findings, although we can’t recommend disclosing an autism diagnosis as essential to help autistic pupils, neither can we say it’s something to avoid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)744-754
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • adolescents
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • disclosure
  • school-age children
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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