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Title: What are the experiences of educational psychologists when working with adolescent girls in mainstream education with social communication difficulties? : an exploratory study
Author: Such, Amy
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 0496
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2017
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Historically, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and associated social communication difficulties (SCD) have been regarded as predominantly male disorders (Sayal et al., 2006). Based on limited research, it has been suggested that the presentation of ASD in girls varies greatly from that in boys (Cridland et al., 2014). The aim of this research was to explore the female presentation of SCD by investigating the experiences of Educational Psychologists (EPs) in order to consider how the role of the EP can be adapted to support girls with ASD and SCD. The research specifically focused on adolescent girls as the local context highlighted this as a critical time within their education. The research was conducted from a critical realist stance and used qualitative data collection methods. Initially a focus group was conducted with members of an Outer London Borough Local Authority Educational Psychology Service (n = 5) to provide an overview of EPs’ experiences when working with adolescent girls with SCD in mainstream education. Through thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) it was possible to identify key themes that then fed into an interview schedule. The second phase of the research involved conducting semi-structured interviews with individual EPs (n = 8) to gain a richer picture of their experiences. The data collected from the individual semi-structured interviews was also analysed through thematic analysis, resulting in a number of themes, subthemes and features being identified. Areas highlighted by the data included the presentation of adolescent girls with SCD in mainstream education, which was often described in terms of identifiable and overlooked behaviours and featured aspects of vulnerability. Another common theme which emerged from the data was the need to provide support for the young person, schools and families, with support being individual to each young person. The importance of having knowledge of ASD was raised, and it was felt that knowledge was gained through research and personal experience. Participants reflected on the impact that the availability of resources has on their work. Finally, working with others was discussed with reference to multiagency working, systemic thinking and the conflict that can be experienced within this work. The need for good channels of communication was highlighted as a necessity within this theme. The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to the impact that these may have on the role of the EP.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral