An exploration of the experiences of post-sixteen transition for young people with autism spectrum disorders.

  • Jayne Chavez

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology (DEdPsy)


This study explores the experiences of post-sixteen transition for young people with autism spectrum disorders. This is a two-part study which captures their experiences prior to leaving secondary school and again when they are engaged in post-sixteen education. There is a lack of research that includes the voices of adolescents with autism as they approach and navigate this important transitional period.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the participants. The first interviews took place when the young people were in their final year of secondary education (Year 11) in which they recall their experiences during this time and their preparations for transition. The second interviews were conducted when the participants had enrolled on a further education course (Year 12) and these describe their current situation as well as exploring transition retrospectively.
The chosen methodological approach was Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The idiographic commitment of the approach allowed the unique experience of the participants to be explored as well as observing the experiences, or themes, that connected them. The pre-transition master themes that emerged from the study were: Relationships, understanding self and the future. The post-transition themes were: Continuation and the past. These themes were influenced by the over-arching theme of Adolescence.
The findings of the study indicate that young people with autism can find post-sixteen transition to be a time that presents opportunity but also creates new challenges. Gaps in processes around transition and the particular features of the further education environment can enhance these challenges. Findings were applied to Bronfenbrenner’s Bio-ecological systems model (1994) which can provide a framework for intervention for professionals and create a shared understanding of the wide range of needs and influences in the lives of young people with autism. Recommendations have been suggested for adults to consider, when working with young people during this transition period.
Date of Award25 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorJohn Franey (Supervisor)

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