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This study explores the experiences of people with Asperger syndrome (AS) from a sociological perspective using the theoretical approaches of ethnomethodology and symbolic interactionism. In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 people with AS and three key themes of feeling different, trying to fit in and safe spaces are considered here. We suggest that people with AS develop a different symbolic capacity to most people and have difficulties in making sense of social encounters. While these difficulties can be overcome, to some degree, by developing strategies to try to fit in, this learning remains at a superficial level and is not internalised through the process of socialisation. Without being able to derive a firm sense of reality from spontaneous involvement in social encounters, participants feel "unruled, unreal and anomic" (Goffman, 1967: 135) and experience intense autistic emotion (Davidson, 2007a,b). © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Emotion, Space and Society

Publication Date





135 - 143