Increasing numbers of autistic children are being educated in mainstream schools. The success of inclusive education is dependent upon multiple factors, including key stakeholders (i.e., teachers and parents). Research has tended to focus on teachers’ experiences of inclusion with limited focus on parents.
The study aimed to qualitatively investigate parental attitudes and experiences of inclusive education. As such, the research question was: What are attitudes towards, and experiences of, inclusive education for parents of autistic children?
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 parents of autistic children. Data was analysed using Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006).
four themes were identified; 1) Feeling Unheard; 2) Implementation of Inclusive Strategies; 3) Social Exclusion; 4) Mental Health and Wellbeing Impact. Findings suggested that parents felt their child struggled socially in mainstream school, with such experiences negatively impacting upon their child’s wellbeing. The detrimental impacts were a result of parents believing school staff dismissed their concerns and thus appropriate strategies for their child were not always implemented.
This highlights the need for school staff and parents to work together to enhance inclusivity both academically and socially for autistic children.