Exploring mothers’ experiences of accessing an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) for an autistic child attending mainstream school in the United Kingdom

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Abstract

Many autistic children are educated in mainstream settings, yet despite the benefits it can present challenges for the children and their parents. A legal framework for accessing support for school age children in England are Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). Whilst there are anecdotal accounts on accessing EHCPs for autistic children, research is limited. To expand knowledge, six mothers (aged between 31 and 44) of autistic children (aged between 6 and 15) were interviewed about their EHCP experiences. A reflexive thematic analysis resulted in the following themes: Barriers for accessing educational support; the process of obtaining an EHCP; impact on mothers; trying to find glimmers of hope. The main finding was an intimidating and overwhelmingly difficult process mothers had to navigate to access an EHCP. The ensuing battle left them with feelings of isolation, anxiety, and hopelessness; alongside a sense that the systems set up to help were found to work against them. Nevertheless, some mothers were determined to find glimmers of hope for the benefit of their child’s development. For autistic children to access the benefits of mainstream education, wider systemic changes are urgently needed. This would also vicariously support parental wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Disabilities
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • autism, Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), inclusivity, mainstream education, children, mothers; support; wellbeing

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