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Title: An examination of the transition from primary to secondary school for children with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) in one local authority
Author: Gumaste, Chantelle
ISNI:       0000 0004 2751 6912
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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Many children can find it difficult to adjust to the social and curriculum differences they encounter when they begin secondary school. For some children — particularly children with a special educational need (SEN) — a difficult transition from primary to secondary school undermines educational, social and emotional outcomes. Children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are known to be especially vulnerable at the time of secondary transition. It is well recognised amongst practitioners that these children have a profile of needs, including difficulties in social communication, problems coping with the sensory environment, and anxiety difficulties, which can potentially make changing schools particularly difficult. Despite this knowledge, there is a paucity of academic research that has focused specifically on this group of children at the time of secondary transition. This study aimed, for the first time, to examine the factors that both support and hinder a successful transition from primary to secondary school for children with an ASD in one local authority. Adopting an eco-systemic perspective and utilising a mixed methodology, this study investigated which potential intrinsic characteristics of the child and wider systemic factors influenced the secondary transition process for 15 children with an ASD. Children were seen twice in the space of 3 months — once before the process of changing school and once the move to secondary school was made. This longitudinal design enabled the examination of any possible changes in the views and perspectives of children, parents, and teachers during the transition process, in addition to the impact of systemic factors on the process. It also allowed for investigation of the possible pre-transition predictors — the intrinsic needs of the child with ASD — of a successful transition. Specifically, it was expected that children with better verbal ability, fewer autistic symptoms, fewer sensory issues, and reduced anxiety levels would experience a smoother transition. Unexpectedly, this study found no significant associations between pre-transition intrinsic ASD child characteristics and overall transition success. Nevertheless, it identified several systemic factors, including the child's identity, tensions over school choice, delay in placement decisions, lack of primary preparation and in-reach, which were found to have a strong influence on the process of secondary transition for the children and their families. Intriguingly, the children who transitioned from mainstream to specialist provisions were identified as experiencing particular difficulties coping with their new secondary school. These findings have important implications for the role of educational psychologists in the transition process.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available