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Title: Perspectives of students, parents and teachers on the secondary school experiences of children and young people with autism spectrum disorders
Author: Brooks, Tamara
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 8089
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Secondary education is increasingly recognised to be a time of challenge for many children with special educational needs (SEN), and particularly those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals with ASD have a profile of needs, including social difficulties, sensory needs and anxiety, that make them particularly vulnerable within the secondary setting, and parents increasingly seek more specialist provision as their children reach secondary age. Building on these findings, this research study aimed to examine the secondary school experiences of children with ASD. This study adopted an ecosystemic perspective (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) and used a mixed-method multi-informant approach to examine both intrinsic child characteristics and wider systemic factors influencing the secondary school experiences of 16 children with ASD aged 11-15 years. Children attended a range of secondary provision including maintained and independent special, local mainstream and autism bases. This allowed for a thorough examination of children’s secondary school experiences, including investigation of differences by type of provision. Furthermore, this multi-informant approach revealed the views of children with ASD and their parents and teachers are not always consistent. Autistic behaviours were significantly associated with type of provision (mainstream versus special), yet cognitive ability, sensory symptoms and anxiety were not. The accounts of children, parents and teachers revealed the overall success of children’s secondary placements did not vary according to type of provision (mainstream versus special), although where children attended out of county provision, these placements were noticeably less successful. Difficulties primarily centred around the challenges of meeting the needs of cognitively able children whose ASD impacts on their ability to cope in mainstream schools. Children’s secondary school experiences were particularly influenced by their social vulnerability and feelings of difference. A range of systemic mitigating factors were identified, including transition preparation, teaching strategies, professional involvement, home-school communication and availability of provision. The findings have important implications for EPs, particularly with regards to providing training, transition support, and psychosocial interventions in school. The findings also highlight a crucial role for the EP in accessing children’s views, and mediating between parents and children where conflict exists.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology and Human Development