The placement of young children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is portrayed in the literature as complex, mainly due to difficulties matching the setting type with the child’s condition. Most studies focus on placement’s outcome; however, this phenomenological study explores placement as a process evolving through social interactions between parents and professionals. Therefore, the process for young ASD children within the Israeli context is explored from the perspectives of both parents and kindergarten teachers. The findings are interpreted based on Schutz’s social phenomenology.Data include semi-structured interviews with five mothers and four teachers, visual tools, documents, emails, telephone conversations and home–school communication notebooks. A detailed analysis of each case study is followed by a cross-case analysis.Findings suggest the placement activity offers little choice and is emotionally charged. Nevertheless, parents and teachers are actively involved, advocating for the child’s needs. Additionally, both agencies relate their actions to their “life-world” experience as parents or educators of ASD children.Knowledge within the placement activity creates boundaries between parents and professionals. Parents describe themselves as experts in their own field, whereas teachers and local education authorities see themselves as the experts and parents as informants and as passive recipients of services. Consequently, parents perceive local education authorities as alienated from their needs, not offering sufficient information or support. Informal agencies, mainly other parents sharing the same experiences, are perceived as offering missing information and support.Findings suggest that placement should be regarded as a socially evolving process whereby parents and professionals negotiate the appropriateness of a solution, relying on each agency’s “life-world” experience raising and educating an ASD child. Conceptualizing the process as such depends on developing a systemic change in professionals’ attitudes and actions towards parental involvement through educational programs that strengthen their notions of self-efficacy when working with parents.
|Date of Award||9 Oct 2013|
|Supervisor||Jill Porter (Supervisor)|