Meehan, Louise Melissa (2011)
Ed.Psych.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The increased prevalence and negative impact of mental health difficulties amongst those with autism and Asperger syndrome has been reported by researchers, clinicians and people with autism themselves. Schools are key environments for those with autism, but there is little research regarding how they promote or demote their mental health.
Eleven young people in Key Stage Three from three mainstream schools were part of a multiple case study, which explored and compared the perspectives of young people, their parents and school staff, regarding the mental health of those with autism or Asperger syndrome. Data was gathered using semi-structured interviews and subjected to thematic analysis.
The well-being of many young people was reported to be good, although two showed signs of stress daily. In some cases well-being had varied significantly over recent years. Eight pairs of factors that promoted or demoted mental health were identified. These related to ethos, awareness of needs, friendships, learning support, pastoral care, noise levels, predictability and organisational skills. Further research is needed to clarify these factors, but this study supports the notion of schools as mental health promoting environments for those with autism and Asperger syndrome and highlights potential areas of focus.
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