A Kingston student has won top prize in her field for her dissertation about the need for more children’s books about autism.

Masters Publishing student Lucie Ducarre, who has Asperger’s syndrome, looked at the availability and demand for books on autism in French literature.

Ms Ducarre, from Le Chambon sur Lignon in Hate-Loire, southern France, has been given the Association for Publishing Education’s prize for the best masters dissertation in the field of publishing studies.

The 27-year-old, who was only diagnosed with Asperger’s in her early twenties, said: “I grew up knowing I was different, and having access to books that explained what autism was or that featured autistic characters would have certainly helped me feel less lonely – while books about social skills would have helped my social development.

“Finally being diagnosed with Asperger’s shed light on a number of things for me and kind of eased a guilt I felt knowing that while I was supposedly more intelligent than the average person, there were so many simple things I just couldn't fully understand or do.”

She argues in her study that publishers in her home country have an opportunity to fill what she identifies as a gap in the market.

“From my research, it appears there is a high demand for more books on autism in France and it may be that French publishers are not aware of this potential market,” she said.

“The surveys also indicated that the general population are becoming more aware and curious about autism – in part due to autistic people gaining more visibility and coverage, politically and in the media, which I thought was really interesting.”

Kingston University associate professor Alison Baverstock said winning the prize was a “terrific achievement”, adding “we are very proud of her indeed”.