School participation: The shared perspectives of parents and educators of primary school students on the autism spectrum

Amy Hodges, Annette Joosten, Helen Bourke-Taylor, Reinie Cordier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Background: An international focus on the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream schools and the increased prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has contributed to increasing numbers of students with ASD enrolling in mainstream schools. The school participation restrictions of adolescent students with ASD is widely researched, but less is known about the challenges faced by primary school students with ASD and how early in their schooling these challenges arise. Methods: Focus groups were used to explore the perspectives of parents and educators on the school participation of primary school students with ASD. Focus group data were analysed thematically. Results: Four themes were derived from the data: (1) more than just being there; (2) meeting in the middle; (3) consistency of supports; and (4) embrace difference. Conclusions: Findings from this study highlight that students aged between 6 and 11 years experience school participation restrictions due to a range of intrinsic (e.g., sense of self and school belonging) and extrinsic factors (e.g., school culture, educator knowledge and skills). It is imperative school based interventions are developed and implemented in the early primary years, that not only target students’ skills, but the range of environmental enablers and barriers impacting student school participation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103550
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Mainstream
  • Perspectives
  • Primary school
  • Qualitative research
  • School participation

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