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Parents’ experiences of accessing education for autistic learners in primary school.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder is neurodevelopmental disorder which is estimated to currently affect 1 in 10 children in South Africa. Children diagnosed with this disability are required to attend schools that are specialised to cater for their needs within the South African education system. Currently autistic children receive education in special needs or inclusive schools. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of parents with autistic children in how do their children access education and the efficacy of the learning models, which are used in schools to educate autistic children. A qualitative research design informed the study. One focus group with six participants was conducted, followed by semi-structured interviews with individual participants. Data was analysed using thematic analysis as per Braun and Clarke. The results indicated that parents experience continuous difficulties in accessing education for their children. Accessing within this context refers to the ability to gain entry into educational institutions. The difficulties were prevalent from early childhood education. Parents’ difficulties include having limited number of schools with the required resources or facilities, which could cater for their children’s needs. This was primarily attributed to systemic challenges such as limited resources and poor policy implementation. Furthermore it was observed that there was limited supported available to assist in accessing education. The study findings were not able to ascertain the efficacy of learning models within the South African context. The results indicate that there needs to be resource review to explore how institutions can assist parents in accessing education for their children. In conclusion, parents of autistic children experience systemic challenges in accessing education for their children. Furthermore there is a lack of systemic support for both parents and their autistic children.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.