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Challenges facing children with ASD when transferring from a special school to an inclusive school in Jeddah

Alzahrani, N. (2018) Challenges facing children with ASD when transferring from a special school to an inclusive school in Jeddah. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

The thesis reports a study of an innovative programme of inclusive education for young girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Inclusive education is a recent development in educational provision in Saudi Arabia, and inclusion for ASD is less developed than some other disabilities, while inclusive education for girls is less developed than inclusive education for boys. The research is based on a specialist Autism Centre and a mainstream primary school designated as an inclusive school to which children transfer from the Autism Centre. This is a small-scale exploratory study based around 12 girls and involving interviews with mothers , classroom teachers, head teachers, and other education professionals. It also involved observation in the two settings and analyses of various pieces of documentary evidence. The actual extent of inclusion in the mainstream school was less than had been expected, which led to some changes from the original research design. A wide variety of literature was reviewed covering the concept of inclusive education, the nature of ASD, and the factors that affect the implementation of inclusive education. Major themes from the literature include the contested nature of inclusion , the contrast between support for inclusion and limited inclusive practice, and the importance of teachers ' attitudes and skills. The results showed widespread support for the programme of inclusion from mothers and those education professionals specialised in ASD. The mothers were pleased with the Autism Centre placement but also welcomed the fact that their daughters had been moved or were about to move to the mainstream school. A particular concern of the mothers was that their daughters should become 'normal' and should mix with 'normal' children. It was apparent that the parents had little involvement in decision-making about inclusion or in working with their children themselves. Specialist teachers in both settings felt that the girls would benefit from an inclusive education because they would experience more academic content and would mix with typically developing children rather than only with children with ASD. Both interviews and observation revealed that the actual extent of inclusion was very limited . This was attributed by school staff to the negative attitudes of general education teachers in the Inclusive School and various constraints, such as class sizes. However, there was some indication that fuller inclusion would be developed in the future. A particular feature of the Inclusive School was ' Autism Friends' , which was a successful attempt to bring together autistic and typically developing children. Analysis of pupil records showed a very uneven and sometimes contradictory process of diagnosis. The study has shown the potential value of this innovative process of inclusion and that good relationships between children with ASD and others, as well as increased academic and social progress, can occur in the mainstream. It also shows the importance of improved training and support for teachers in Saudi Arabia with regard to ASD and suggests that there should be significantly increased involvement with parents.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Croll, P.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:85393

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