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This research is a PhD study aiming to look at Students with ASD transition to secondary school and experience of secondary school. It has a specific focus on emotional and behavioural factors. 


Studies show that students with ASD can often find it difficult to settle into secondary school.  It is known that many barriers exist to participation in mainstream education for students with ASD.  Social isolation, bullying and anxiety commonly feature in a student with ASD experience of school (Humphrey & Lewis, 2008 and Carrington & Graham , 2001). Educators often report inadequate training and support in teaching children with ASD and there is limited research into processes for facilitating learning and participation of students with ASD in post primary education (Barnard et al. 2000). In fact, Barnard et al. 2000, report that in the UK students ASD are 20 times more likely to be excluded from school than their peers. It is acknowledged that students with ASD can be viewed as having a ‘distinct need’ in terms of educational provision which may not be currently met in mainstream education, mainly because of a lack of knowledge and research on how best to meet this need (Humphrey & Lewis 2008). 


This study has four phases.


Phase 1: Parent's perspectives of the transition to Secondary School - this is currently being written up as a journal article and you can view a poster based on this phase by clicking here


Phase 2: To explore the nature and extent of participation in and adjustment to the 1st year of secondary school for students with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and to identify factors associated with their participation in and adjustment to Secondary School. This phase is almost complete.


Phase 3: This is the current study as explained on the website - it aims to specifically look at students in Secondary School in terms of their social competence and behaviour in school and factors which may influence this. 


Phase 4: This phase will bring the project together. It hoped to gather the experiences and views of students and their families on engagement and participation in secondary school. Ideally those who participate in phase 3 may be interested in participating in this phase too.


It is hoped that this PhD will be completed by September 2017. It is anticipated that the results can be published and used as part of the evidence base to support integration and provision of supports and services for students with ASD in Secondary Schools. 




Barnard, J., Prior, A. & Potter, D. (2000). Autism and Inclusion: Is it Working? London: National Autistic Society.


Carrington, S., & Graham, L. (2001). Perceptions of School by Two Teenage Boys with Asperger Syndrome and their Mothers: A Qualitative Study. Autism: An International Journal of Research and Practice,  5 (1) 37-48.


Humphrey, N., & Lewis, S. (2008) 'Make me normal': the views and experiences of pupils on the autistic spectrum in mainstream secondary schools." Autism: An International Journal of Research and Practice, 12 (1)23-46.



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