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The overlapping phenomenology of autism spectrum disorder and the enduring effects of early attachment experiences: an exploration of educational psychologists’ perspectives and problem analysis processes

Alexander, Fiona Claire (2017)
Ed.Psych.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This study explored the perspectives and practices of Educational Psychologists (EPs) who had encountered the apparent overlapping phenomenology of autism spectrum disorders and the enduring effects of early attachment experiences in their casework. Six EPs from two EP Services took part in interviews, which were audio recorded. Inductive and deductive analyses were mediated through the active constructionist role of the interviewer during the interview process and the thematic analysis of the resultant interview transcripts. The study intended to explore EPs’ differential conceptualisations of autism and attachment and how they conceptualise and attempt to differentiate the overlapping phenomenology. Analysis identified two other dimensions, which complemented the planned foci in a cogent way and were also examined: how EPs conceptualised the value of differentiating between autism and the effects of early attachment experiences; and how the discipline of educational psychology offers a distinct contribution to problem analysis in this area. The talk of EPs captured in this study contributes to existing practice-based evidence about overlapping phenomenology, and by describing a process of psychological problem analysis which could support more reliable differentiation between autism and effects of early attachment experiences. A distinctive contribution of the discipline of educational psychology is proposed and suggested as worthy of closer consideration as ethics and efficiencies are both of legitimate concern in contemporary multi-disciplinary, public service contexts. Other implications identified from this study pertain to the way in which EPs articulate their relationship with theory, their use of practice frameworks, and the distinct nature of their identities.

Type of Work:Ed.Psych.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Morris, Susan K
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:The School of Education
Subjects:BF Psychology
L Education (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:7664
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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