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      Inclusive school practices supporting the primary to secondary transition for autistic children: pupil, teacher, and parental perspectives

      , ,

      Advances in Autism

      Emerald Publishing Limited

      Inclusion, Transition, Photovoice, Pupil views, Resourced provision

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          The primary to secondary school transition can have a significant and long-lasting impact on young people. Autistic children are particularly vulnerable to negative transition experiences; however, there is a lack of research examining effective practices and provision for these pupils. This case study involves a mainstream secondary school in the South of England, which has a dedicated Learning Support base. The purpose of this paper is to collect qualitative data on experiences of the primary to secondary school transition from multiple stakeholders.


          A photovoice activity followed by a semi-structured interview was conducted with five autistic pupils aged 12–16 years; semi-structured interviews were also carried out with six parents and four teachers.


          Five key themes emerged from the data in relation to effective practices: inclusion, child-centred approach, familiarisation, visual supports and communication and consistency.

          Research limitations/implications

          As a small-scale case study, there are limitations regarding generalisation. However, this research illuminates transition practices that are experienced as effective by autistic children, their families and teachers.

          Practical implications

          Practical implications related to each of these themes are highlighted. These implications are important in the context of the mandatory responsibilities of schools in England to include the voices of children and young people with special educational needs in decisions about their education.


          The findings challenge a rights-based approach to inclusion and illustrate the importance of a needs-based approach which appropriately recognises and understands what autism means for children, their families and the teachers who support them.

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          Most cited references 28

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          On the ontological status of autism: the ‘double empathy problem’

           Damian Milton (2012)
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            Explaining the increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders: the proportion attributable to changes in reporting practices.

            The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has increased markedly in recent decades, which researchers have suggested could be caused in part by nonetiologic factors such as changes in diagnosis reporting practices. To our knowledge, no study has quantified the degree to which changes in reporting practices might explain this increase. Danish national health registries have undergone a change in diagnostic criteria in 1994 and the inclusion of outpatient contacts to health registries in 1995.
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              Interventions in schools for children with autism spectrum disorder: methods and recommendations.

              Although researchers have identified many promising teaching strategies and intervention programs for children with autism spectrum disorder, research on implementation of these interventions in school settings has lagged. Barriers to implementation include incompletely developed interventions, limited evidence of their utility in promoting long-term and meaningful change, and poor fit with school environments. To overcome these barriers, interventions need to be detailed in manuals that identify key components yet allow for flexibility, and studies need to evaluate long-term, real-life outcomes. Innovative research strategies also may be important, particularly carrying out research on new interventions in school settings from the outset, conducting partial effectiveness trials in which study personnel administer interventions in school settings, using community-partnered participatory research approaches, and redesigning interventions in a modular format.

                Author and article information

                Advances in Autism
                Emerald Publishing Limited
                01 October 2018
                : 4
                Issue : 4 Issue title : Inclusive educational practice for autistic learners Issue title : Inclusive educational practice for autistic learners
                : 184-196
                University of Southampton , Southampton, UK
                Author notes
                Sarah Parsons can be contacted at:
                615916 AIA-05-2018-0016.pdf AIA-05-2018-0016
                © Emerald Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 40, Pages: 13, Words: 6447
                research-article, Research paper
                cat-HSC, Health & social care
                cat-LID, Learning & intellectual disabilities
                Custom metadata

                Health & Social care

                Transition, Inclusion, Resourced provision, Photovoice, Pupil views


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