04 SES 14 A JS, Working with Autistic Children: A Transnational Overview
Joint Paper Session NW 04 and NW 14
Cooperation between home, school, and professionals is important when servicing children with special educational needs. It can be considered an essential factor in the successful implementation of inclusive school practices. According to Icelandic law, municipalities are obliged to provide professional/specialist services to children with special educational needs and their schools. Other more specialized institutions that are run by the state, such as the State Diagnostic and Counselling Centre and The Childrens´ Psychatric Department of The National Hospital of Iceland, also provide special services. Existing research (e.g.Tétreault, Freeman, Cariére, Gascon & Deschénes, 2013) shows that coordination between the social, educational, and health care system can sometimes be inadequate.
The study is part of a mixed method study using exploratory design (Creswell & Plano Clark 2018). Its overall purpose is to examine the cooperation between parents, school staff, and professionals/institutions providing diagnosis and support to families and schools regarding children and adolescents with ASD.
This paper presents preliminary findings from a small scale study focusing on the experiences and attitudes of specialists (psychologists, social workers etc.). Participants were drawn from different institutions that diagnose and provide support and advice to schools and parents of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Semi-structured interviews conducted with eight specialists from different institutions were analysed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clark, 2013) and the ecological systems theory of Bronfenbrenner (1979).
Preliminary findings suggest that the coordination between the different providers of services is problematic at times. Institutions run by the state are governed by different ministries, which can hinder cooperation. Both state and municipal institutions suffer from work overload, and in many cases the staff turnover is high. Participants reported positive experiences cooperating with schools. They particularly valued the cooperation with teachers who they felt played a central role in implementing support to the children. However, the demands and responsibilities placed on the teachers were far too high and sometimes their knowledge about the special educational needs of the children seemed to be lacking.
Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2013) Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. London:Sage Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Experiments by nature and design.Cambridge: Harward University Press. Creswell, J, W. & Plano Clark, V. L. (2018). Designing and conducting mixed method research (3rd. ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage. Tétreault, S., Freeman, A., Cariére, M., Gascon, H., & Deschénes, P.M. (2013). Understanding the parents of children with special needs: Collaboration between health, social and educational networks. Child: Care, Health and Development, 40(6) 825-832.
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