‘I don’t know what I’d change. I think I’m quite fine
: exploring the experiences and views of boys with autism about their primary school playtimes.

  • Luke Peter Dunning

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology (DEdPsy)


The following study explored the playtime experiences of boys with autism while attending mainstream primary school settings.
The literature related to the topic of playtime experiences for boys with autism is scarce, with many studies considering playtime as an additional aspect of children’s primary school experience. The literature which exists on this topic has identified that some children with autism experience social challenges at playtime related to their social interaction difficulties, and to peers hurting, teasing or calling them names. Literature on this topic has tended to focus on the challenges children with autism face at playtime, with less known about their interests, preferences, strengths, and what they perceive might help them.
Thematic analysis was conducted on both observational and child interview data. The study focused on two areas, which were the experiences and views of boys with autism about their playtimes and how their views might inform supporting them.
The themes which were developed included: the function playtime can serve; the challenges playtime can bring and factors which support a good playtime experience.
This study supports previous research which has suggested some boys with autism experience challenges with peers at playtime, yet has also indicated a range of other potential challenges, a range strengths and successes, the possible function playtime can serve some children and the factors which can support children to do well. By including the views of boys with autism about their playtime experiences, school professionals might make more effective support plans for them. Educational psychologists are well placed to support schools to include the views of children when developing playtime support plans for boys with autism.
Date of Award28 Nov 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorPauline Heslop (Supervisor)

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