London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Innovative approaches to preparing children on the autistic spectrum to be citizens of the twenty-first century

Author(s) Harnett, P.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2014  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Innovative Practice and Research Trends in Identity, Citizenship and Education  
Age group -  
The debate remains within England as to how to provide the best possible educational provision for children on the autistic spectrum. Some argue for complete integration of these children in mainstream schooling; others support the development of bases outside mainstream education to support these children with diverse needs. The paper presents a case study from one local authority in England of its strategy for supporting children with autism and some of the challenges which this strategy meets in implementation. It considers the local authority’s provision of specially developed small units (eight children) to cater for these children’s needs. These bases have been developed over a period of eight years and the paper will report on some of the challenges in creating these bases. The collected data also include children’s own comments together with those of their parents and educators within the units. Field notes and classroom observations are also analysed alongside these comments. The data suggests that a focused approach in a small unit setting can provide significant increases in the ability of young people to develop more appropriate social skills and emotional resilience and awareness – key attributes for future citizens. The paper concludes with recommendations for future practice which emerge from the data.

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