What can be learnt from parents about school avoidance in Autistic pupils?


What can we learn from parents and caregivers of school-aged Autistic children to inform current Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA) intervention approaches in England?

A small study written as part submission to MEd Special Education Autism (Children) University of Birmingham. Author: Amelia Green BSc (hons) Psychology, GMBPsS

This study was designed to understand Government and Local Authority (LA) approaches to school attendance and to supporting Autistic school-aged children who struggle with Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA). It obtained the viewpoint of 1,200 parents and carers to see what may be learnt to inform the current approach.

The statistics and study have some very powerful, relatable and at times hard to read results, with quotes that very much resonate with what we hear daily at the PDA Society. Content warning: parent blame, self-harm and suicide.

45% of 1,026 respondents reported that their child either had a diagnosis of PDA they or suspected PDA and the author notes that "the data presented also requires further investigation, such as if there is a correlation between EBSA and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) as shown in Figure 2. Future research should explore this to identify correlations and inform approaches to EBSA".

The study concludes that it is clear that current intervention approaches for EBSA are not being implemented quickly enough or consistently, and that parent blame is still prevalent. "In essence, the parents are informing us that it is not the law and the approaches to interventions where change is needed, but in the application of the much-needed understanding and support for these children and their families to ensure positive outcomes and for all children to thrive in school".


Author: Amelia Green BSc (hons) Psychology, GMBPsS, 2022