Jones, K. and Howley, M. (2010) An investigation into an interaction programme for children on the autistic spectrum: outcomes for children, perceptions of schools and a model for training. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs.10(2), pp. 115-123. 1471-3802.
The objective of this study was to investigate a system of training designed by a Local Education Authority support service to promote interactive skill building with children on the autism spectrum. Using a case study approach, the study focused thematically upon outcomes for children, perceptions of schools regarding impact of the training programme and key features of the system of delivering training. Five schools (four primary mainstream and on primary special) which had completed training during a one-year period participated in the research. Data was gathered using multi-methods including questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and document scrutiny. Findings indicate a number of positive outcomes for children, including enhanced communication skills and the development of friendships with peers. The model of training was perceived to be effective by all participants, with a focus upon increased staff confidence in order to become trainer of other members of staff. The training model comprises a number of features essential to effectiveness, including the development of partnerships between all stakeholders. The model of training is seen as a system through which continuation of interaction techniques in schools is promoted, initially with input from a local authority specialist, and with the aims of independent continuation of the programme and practices. This case study reflects the ability of support services to identify innovative ways of providing services, underpinned by the notion of promoting inclusive practices: this holistic package of support could serve as a model for other types of interventions with children with a range of needs. Conclusions indicate that involvement of children as active participants at the inception of the programme should be considered: further research ought also to include the voices of children in order to seek insights into the perceptions of the programme