An Exploration of Autistic Pupils' Schooling Experience

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Social Genetic and Dev Psychiatry Centre


Education is the main intervention that autistic individuals
receive to help them function within a neurotypical society,
with high associated costs and very mixed outcome; recent
estimates suggest only 15% of autistic adults are in full time
employment, for example. There is little research
investigating the pathways autistic individuals and families
take to decide on and obtain suitable education services,
which vary from residential special schools to mainstream
provision with or without individual support. In particular, the
voice of autistic people, families and even teachers or
services involved in the decision-making process is rarely
captured. This project aims to explore the education
pathways for autistic pupils, using a mixed methods
The student will analyse existing data from the Social
Relationships Study (SRS), which is part of the Twins Early
Development Study (TEDS), and has data from 320 twins,
where one or both twins has ASD. The longitudinal nature of
both the SRS and TEDS means that data are available
across childhood and adolescence and into young adulthood,
including self-report, observation and informant measures of
schooling, support, ASD diagnoses and traits, mental health
and wellbeing, IQ and other areas of cognition.
Focus groups and interviews will be conducted with ASD
individuals, their families and educational staff, allowing the
student to develop qualitative skills and allowing first-hand
accounts of the schooling experience to be gathered from a
range of stakeholders.
The qualitative data collected from focus group and
interviews will inform development of an online survey
investigating factors that might influence schooling
experiences, such as, bullying, additional support received,
time of ASD diagnosis, friendships, gender, IQ, family
circumstance or co-morbidities. Following piloting and
validation stages, the online survey will be used to collect
data from a large cohort of autistic adults.
Many parents end up going to tribunal to obtain the desired
educational provision for their child. The fairness,
effectiveness and efficiency of this process is widely
3 / 12
questioned. The student will investigate this process using a
mixed-methods approach.
With almost two thirds of parents believing their autistic child
is not in a school that would best support them (National
Autistic Society, 2011), and with an increased pressure on
services to incorporate service-user feedback into policy and
procedure, evidence-based research is needed to improve
current practices for a fairer, more efficient and effective
process to provide the right educational opportunities to
every child on the autism spectrum.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2317243 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2022 Victoria Milner