My doctoral research seeks to understand the social experiences of autistic pupils in mainstream secondary schools. 70% of autistic pupils attend mainstream schools. However, attendance alone is insufficient to create a truly inclusive educational experience and further research is needed to understand and improve the inclusion experience of autistic secondary school pupils.
Using a mixed-methods and interdisciplinary approach, my research explores: (i) how autistic pupils conceptualise their social experiences, (ii) how embedded autistic pupils are in social networks within mainstream secondary schools and (iii) the first impressions made of autistic pupils and how this links to wider social experiences and education. Via my collaboration with Carmel College, I am creating a participatory panel of autistic and neurotypical young people to guide my project thus ensuring the autistic voice is heard in all aspects of my work.