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Title: "It's a tsunami of emotions" : exploring parental perspectives on the transition into primary school for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
Author: Erbes, V. S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 1056
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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In line with The Children and Families Act (2014) and the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (2014), there has been an increased focus on the duty of the local authority (LA) to support families and children through times of change such as the transition into school. It is well documented that these transitions are a challenging time for all families, but even more so for families of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The research aimed to explore the parental perspectives on the transition process from early years settings to primary school for children with ASD. The study adopted a mixed methods approach. Quantitative data was collected through the use of three measures: the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (Second Edition), The Dunn Short Sensory Profile and The Early Years British Ability Scales 3. This enabled the researcher to explore a child’s individual profile of need. A parent questionnaire also gathered data on family demographics and parental satisfaction during the transition process. Qualitative data was collected through in depth semi-structured interviews with parents of children with ASD. Child voice interviews were conducted using specially developed assistive communication methods. Participants were recruited through a search of the preschool notification system within the LA and via a search of the EarlyBird database. Two participants groups were identified: 1) families of children who had transitioned into primary school in September 2013 and 2) families of children who had transitioned into primary school in September 2014. The first group of participants were interviewed post-transition. The second group of participants were interviewed both pre- and post-transition. Analysis of the quantitative data revealed no associations between profile of need and parental perspectives, as measured by the parental satisfaction survey. Differences were observed between cohorts in relation to level of contact with educational psychology services and the number of children with a statement or Education, Health and Care Plan prior to transition. It was tentatively suggested that these differences may be accounted for by the new legislative processes in place. A thematic analysis was carried out on the parental qualitative data. Few differences were observed between pre- and post-transition data. Five over-arching themes were identified: coping with the diagnostic process, managing the impact on family life, learning to manage and live with autism, navigating the SEN system and negotiating support for transition. Assistive communication methods were successful in eliciting child voice. It was concluded that the interaction of child need, family variables and eco-systemic factors influence parental perspectives on transition. The research illuminated factors associated with a pivotal life event for children with ASD and their families and presented unique methods seen to be helpful in eliciting child voice. Implications for LA policy and educational psychology practice were discussed.
Supervisor: Hill, V. ; Farran, E. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available