University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Disabilities
Early online date20 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Sep 2021


Whilst attendance in mainstream school helps encourage inclusivity, these environments are recognised as being particularly challenging for young people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The COVID-19 pandemic brought a novel transition as young people moved from school to home-learning. This study compared the experiences of parents of children with ASD and co-occurring health difficulties of school-learning environments with their home-learning environments during COVID-19 lockdown.
An interpretative phenomenological analysis was conducted on semi-structured interviews from six parents of children (aged 8-15 years old) with ASD. Four superordinate themes were generated: Interactions between Health, ASD and Learning Environments; School Support and Managing Health Needs; Seeking Solutions; and Learning from COVID-19 Lockdown.
The study highlighted the impact of ASD and co-occurring health difficulties on learning where parents found ways to provide positive home-learning environments which could be used and/or transferred back into school environments. These results hold real-world implications where educators could treat sensory and ASD friendly environments as standard and include genuine adjustments for children with ASD and additional needs. A flexible home-learning approach using parental knowledge around environmental adjustments that support learning, wellbeing and a sense of inclusion should be prioritised for children’s overall development and wellbeing in these unprecedented times, and beyond.


© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (

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