Researcher Explores High School Autistic Experience in Australia.

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A recent research article published by the British Journal of Learning Disabilities presented qualitative research conducted in Queensland Australia exploring mainstream school experiences of young people with autism spectrum disorder and their parents.

The study aimed to share some of the practical strategies adapted and developed to better engage young people with autism spectrum disorder in research as well as critically reflect on what it means for future inclusive methodological approaches related to this area of research.

The researched really emphasized focus on gaining insights from families and individuals interacting with autism in mainstream school settings to better capture their personal experiences and advocate for new perspectives, sensitivities, and awareness in informing the clinical areas of autism research and progress.

The study stated that previous barriers in gaining comprehensive interview data and information from ASD individuals directly could potentially be attributed to complex presentations and difficult-to-extract personal narratives due to communication and abnormal social symptoms frequently associated with ASD.

To do this, the research project focused on interviews and qualitative data. Since there is little documented about methodological issues faced by researchers undertaking interview with young people with ASD, there is little known about maximizing participation in these areas of research.

The research project invited nine families, comprised of 11 parents, two couples and seven mothers. The sample also included eight young people with ASD between the ages of 12 and 15. Seven were males, one was female. All of the ASD participants were diagnosed with autism, 3 with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, and five had been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. All participants were able to communicate verbally, seven communicated using complex sentence structures; however, one young person had noticeably less expressive communication.

The project used Carol Grays developed Social Stories to gather and share information from the participants with autism. Interviews, adaptive communication methods, utilizing visual supports, interview processing, and remembering past events were all facets of the process.

In conclusion, the study wanted to re-prioritize the information that ASD individuals are highly heterogeneous with diverse individual qualities, interests and capabilities. The key message is that diagnostic-related assumptions about impairments can lead researchers to develop strategies, which exclude or restrict rather than maximize participation of disabled people in research.

More information on the study can be seen here

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