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Publication Detail
The experiences of autistic young people and their parents of lockdown and the reopening of schools
This report summarises qualitative research conducted in late 2020 with parents of autistic children and young people (CYP) attending mainstream schools in England, as well as some autistic CYP themselves. It aimed to understand how they experienced lockdown, home-schooling, virtual learning and return to school. Findings indicate that conditions of lockdown such as disrupted schooling, reduced social contact and lack of spontaneity were already familiar to participant families. Retreating into the private sphere of the home came as a (partial) relief for many, providing respite from the intense parental labour involved in negotiating between CYP and schools. However, parents faced additional responsibilities to assist their children’s access to schoolwork, and simultaneously lost vital support from families, support groups and therapies, which further exacerbated their marginalisation. Our findings lead us to argue that the pandemic has cast a harsh light on the ordinary workings of mainstream schools, which create and maintain ‘spoiled identities’ for many autistic students.
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