The face-to-face focus groups took place at Autscape, a well-established annual residential event in the United Kingdom organized by and for autistic people. Autscape does not allow researchers to approach potential participants to avoid pressure or coercion, so recruitment was entirely by the placement of posters and sign-up sheets for the group sessions. The sample was purposive; the recruitment posters referred to experiences of getting stuck or having difficulty doing things. Despite the restrictions on recruitment methods, two additional groups were needed to accommodate the high number of volunteers.

Two further online (Skype) focus group sessions were conducted because many autistic people have difficulty with travel to unfamiliar places and interaction in groups. Text rather than video chat was used in order to maximize access because autistic people often have difficulty with various aspects of social communication such as the timing of conversation turns, auditory processing, and attention. Several adjustments were needed to improve accessibility to autistic people, for instance by requesting that moving images not be used to reduce the visual processing stress. More detail about conducting text-based meetings with autistic participants can be found on the website of autism research charity, Autistica (Buckle, 2020) and the Autism@Manchester website (Buckle and Gowen, 2021).

In order to obtain the widest representation possible, the selection criteria were kept to a minimum, with no exclusions for psychiatric or other conditions which commonly occur with autism. The requirements were that participants must be age 18 or over, clinically diagnosed with any autism spectrum disorder and able to express their experiences in words.