Comparing Locations between Social Media Posts and the Focus Groups

“Bookshops are wonderful (except the ones with cafes in them, those aren’t really bookshops) Bookshops are usually quiet, dimly lit, have soft furnishings so don’t echo much, and don’t have many strong smells or sudden loud noises.”

Social Media Post

We were interested to find out whether people on social media identified the same locations as being accessible or inaccessible as in our focus groups. In particular, were the most popular challenging locations the same?

In the focus groups we identified several key locations which can be more challenging due to their sensory inputs. These were:

We found that while there were differences in the order that different locations appeared and the exact places people discussed, we saw the same places being mentioned over and over again.

Most Commonly Reported Accessible Locations

Focus GroupsSocial Media Posts
Outdoor Spaces (e.g. gardens and parks)Outdoor Spaces (e.g. gardens and parks)
Retail Shops (including bookshops)Libraries
Art Galleries/MuseumsArt Galleries/Museums
Concerts/ClubbingBookshops

Both groups identified the same most enabling location: outdoor green spaces such as (botanical) gardens, public parks and forests/woodland. It’s interesting that the focus groups had retail shops as both one of their most disabling and enabling locations depending on the kind of shop. In the focus group people identified that specific shops are easier to visit than others, with several people specifically naming Flying Tiger as one that they enjoyed going to. On social media, people identified that bookshops in particular can be very accessible due to the fact that they are often quiet, rarely have loud noises or strong smells and may also be dimly lit.

Most Commonly Reported Disabling Locations

Focus GroupsSocial Media Posts
Supermarkets/Grocery ShopsSupermarkets/Grocery Shops
EateriesEateries
High Streets and City/Town centresRetail Shops/Shopping Centres
Healthcare settingsPublic Transport
Public TransportHigh Streets and City/Town centres
Retail shops/Shopping centresHealthcare settings
 Educational Settings (e.g. schools)

Both the focus groups and social media posts found that supermarkets and eateries (such as pubs, cafes, and restaurants) were the two most challenging public spaces to be in. While the other locations are in slightly different orders, we can see that there are a lot of similarities between both groups. It makes sense that these locations are ones people wanted to talk about as they are places that most people visit regularly and can make those experiences more difficult. These results are interesting as they highlight which places autistic people often find difficult to visit and where would benefit the most from making changes to support autistic people’s sensory needs.

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