Trading places: Autism inclusion disorder and school change

Rozanna Lilley*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    This article investigates the experiences of students diagnosed with autism who change schools during the early primary years in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Using the narratives of eight mothers, the article documents the circumstances leading to school change, usually towards more segregated provision. Mothers highlighted the difficulty of these school transitions and the family distress that often prompted change. The eight cases of school change that are analysed provide a stark picture of the extent to which Australian schools are unable to adapt to these students. Rather than searching for the causes of these difficulties in the behaviour of students, it is argued that we need to look at the pattern of deficits found in classrooms and schools, as described by concerned mothers. In this article the pattern is referred to as Autism Inclusion Disorder. The defining features of this disorder are the co-presence of persistent school deficits in social communication/interaction (including teacher inability to interact with students) and school restricted and repetitive behaviours (such as rigid adherence to negative behaviour management). Maternal school change narratives suggest that for a genuinely inclusive education system to develop more attention should be directed towards changing schools rather than changing children to fit traditional classrooms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)379-396
    Number of pages18
    JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015


    • autism
    • disability
    • inclusive education
    • mothers
    • school change
    • special education


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