Exploring Needs and Supportive Factors for Students with Autism Spectrum Conditions who Show Signs of Anxiety within the Mainstream School Setting

  • Dawn Larman

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


The prevalence of anxiety amongst children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) is reportedly considerably higher than the general population (Ozsivadjian & Knott, 2011). Research considering intervention for children with ASC and anxiety has predominantly been from a clinical perspective, with limited evidence based literature being found that explored the needs of these students in relation to anxiety within the mainstream secondary school educational context. Anxiety can increase during adolescence for children with ASC (White, Ollendick, Scahill, Oswald, & Albano, 2009) and many of the anxiety related worries of children with ASC have been found to be related to school (Ozsivadjian & Knott, 2011). However, there is a dearth of research regarding practical support within an educational setting that can be implemented by schools on a needs basis to support students with ASC and signs of anxiety.Four students with a diagnosis of an ASC who had presented with signs of anxiety were identified from mainstream secondary schools across one English local authority. A parent and an educational practitioner who worked with each student also participated. A qualitative multiple embedded case study design was utilised. Suitably differentiated methods for gaining this cohort of students' views and engaging them in the research were employed. Data from semi-structured interviews and educational documentation were analysed for main themes using thematic analysis based upon Braun and Clarke's (2006) six phase model. The perceived needs and difficulties of anxious students with ASC and what is considered to be effective practice in supporting them within a mainstream secondary school setting are outlined. The study provides some understanding of the needs of students with ASC and how schools support management of their anxiety. The research intends to extend knowledge of the needs of these students and what works in effectively supporting these students within a mainstream secondary school setting.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKevin Woods (Supervisor) & Garry Squires (Supervisor)


  • student perceptions
  • thematic analysis
  • case study
  • interventions
  • support
  • anxiety
  • mainstream secondary school
  • worry
  • Asperger's syndrome
  • autism
  • educational psychology

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