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Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Social Sciences legacy departments
Title: "It would help if others could live in my autism for a day": Understandings of autism, autistic identities and pupils', parents', and staff experiences of support in mainstream secondary schools.
Author(s): Graham, Elizabeth-Anne
Supervisor(s): McIntosh, Ian
Punch, Samantha
Keywords: autism
secondary school
autistic sociality
autistic identities
school support
Issue Date: 31-Dec-2022
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Support for autistic pupils is increasingly recognised within educational establishments. However, little research exists which brings together the needs of pupils alongside those who are key to this support, parents and school staff. This sociological study explores the challenges and support that autistic pupils, parents and staff experience and the ways in which the relationships and communication plays out between all three groups. The data was gathered using a variety of methods, including task-based activities, informal discussions within the home, and semi-structured face-to-face, email and Skype interviews. The findings reveal that autistic pupils face stigma, and numerous sensory, emotional and practical challenges that largely relate to the social environment of school life. These challenges are experienced at home and in the space between home and school. For parents, challenges stem from the pressure and responsibility of supporting their children, advocating on their behalf and protecting their well-being. Staff challenges consist of institutional constraints and meeting the needs of individual pupils. Pupils, parents and staff do receive some forms of support; however it fails to meet their emotional and practical needs and consequently impacts on the pupils’ education. The qualitative data shows that positive relationships are typically built on acceptance and understanding. In contrast, negative relationships can lead to pupil victimisation, exclusion and masking, with devastating impacts on their wellbeing and education. The findings also reveal that relationships among and between all participant groups are key to successful support and effective communication, which ultimately bridges the gap between home and school. It emerged from the data that although parents and school staff have an understanding of autism, all participant groups acknowledge that more training and education is required. This thesis argues that understanding autism and autistic identities plays a significant role in the inclusion and support of autistic pupils in mainstream secondary school.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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