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Title: A thematic analysis investigating the impact of educational context on how pupils with autism spectrum conditions make sense of peer relations and themselves
Author: Tibbles, J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 3396
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2017
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Objective: There has been limited research comparing the experiences of students with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) in mainstream and non-mainstream educational placements. It is possible that different contexts may influence the social comparisons made by students, influencing their self-perception and self-esteem. This investigation explores whether educational context influences the social comparisons of students with ASC Design: Thematic analysis of transcripts of semi-structured interviews. Sixteen participants, eight from a dedicated ASC unit within a mainstream school and eight from a specialist school for ASC were interviewed. This investigation used data previously collected for a separate study. Findings: In both contexts, participants made different comparisons with Typically Developing (TD) or mainstream peers than to peers with ASC. When comparing themselves to peers with ASC, participants saw themselves as being similar, but superior to them in the sense of having less severe difficulties. There were differences between the contexts in how they compared themselves to TD or mainstream peers. Participants from the unit saw themselves as different, positioned themselves in relation to that difference and described their peers as seeing them negatively. In contrast, participants from the ASC school emphasised similarity to TD friends, and downplayed the impact of ASC. Although aware of negative perceptions towards ASC, this was perceived as a response to the ‘label’ of ASC, usually from people not personally familiar with the participant. Conclusions: Participants in different educational contexts made different social comparisons. Placement in a mainstream school unit was associated with greater perception of difference from TD peers than participants in the specialist school. Implications: The self-perceptions of students with ASC in different educational contexts may have implications for their behaviour and for their mental health, therefore interventions to support inclusion may need to address this directly.
Supervisor: Williams, Emma ; Holmes, Nan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available