The project started in 2019 with an online survey, launched by Dr Rebecca Wood, for autistic school staff who work or have worked in schools in the UK. Professor Francesca Happé CBE was the project mentor at this time. The project was developed as part of Rebecca’s ESRC-funded postdoctoral Fellowship at the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre of King’s College London (during which time Francesca was also Rebecca’s mentor).
The survey was live for four weeks and there were 149 participants. They carried out, or had carried out a range of roles in schools, and included teachers, teaching assistants, SENCos (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators), deputy Head teachers, Head teachers and visiting professionals. You can download a summary report of the initial findings from the survey here. A free-access journal article based on our Phase 1 findings has been published in Disability & Society. Other outputs are on our Publications page.
Phase 2 of the project started in October 2020 and ran for 12 months, generously funded by the John and Lorna Wing Foundation. Dr Laura Crane of University College London and Alan Morrison of Autism Rights Group Highland joined the project, as did Dr Ruth Moyse who was employed by the University of East London as a research assistant on the project. In Phase 2, in-depth interviews were conducted with 33 of the Phase 1 participants: a summary report of our findings can be accessed here. Other outputs include an edited book Learning from Autistic Teachers: How to be a Neurodiversity-Inclusive School (publication April 2022), our Amazing Autistic Teachers e-booklet and a free-access report on our findings in relation to Covid-19.
The John and Lorna Wing Foundation kindly agreed continuing funding for our project to enable us to develop the ASSP into its international phase, with partners in Poland and the US. We are joined by Dr Anna Gagat-Matuła, Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Special Needs Education of the Pedagogical University of Kraków and Dr Kristen Bottema-Beutel, Associate Professor of Special Education in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College. Dr Damian Milton, Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the University of Kent, Director at the National Autism Task Force and Chair of the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC Network) has also joined our team. Key activities in Phase 3 include research with autistic teachers in Poland and the US, an attitudes survey of parents in Poland, the UK and the US, and research with autistic children in the UK.