The voices and experiences of children with autism, and their families, in their transitions from nursery to primary school (Student Project)

Felix Perkes.

BSc Psychology. 

I am Felix Perkes, a third year student studying for a BSc in Psychology at the University of Southampton; during my studies I have developed a strong interest in autism, building on my previous curiosity. Studies have indicated that there is a lack of focus on the views of young persons with autism – that is, directly from their perspective, as opposed to peripheral views from parents, teachers, and others, such that the knowledge-base about autism is informed by people without autism (Fayette & Bond, 2017). This is problematic since research accordingly fails to account for the perspectives of children with autism, especially since it is conducted primarily for their benefit: for example, previous research on transitions between preschool and primary school with children with autism has mainly focused on parental and teacher views. This study aims to capture the voices and experiences of pre-schoolers with autism during the period of their transition to primary school, with an aim to capture their unique perspectives that are usually neglected by researchers. This will be done by observing their interactions and activities over the course of their day in the nursery, aiming to gain an insight into what they enjoy doing, as well as their perspectives on the big and small transitions within the nursery. In addition to the views of the children, the perspectives of the parents and staff at the nursery will also be gathered. This data will be collected through a series of observations as part of a qualitative research study, as well as through a series of interviews with parents and nursery staff. This data can be used to produce more holistic accounts of the children with autism transitioning to primary school that more fully reflects their interests and perspectives. You can read in detail about the project’s findings here.