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A sequential mixed-methods approach to exploring the experiences of practitioners who have worked in multi-sensory environments with autistic children

Unwin, Katy L., Powell, Georgina and Jones, Catherine R. G. 2021. A sequential mixed-methods approach to exploring the experiences of practitioners who have worked in multi-sensory environments with autistic children. Research in Developmental Disabilities 118 , 104061. 10.1016/j.ridd.2021.104061

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Abstract

Background & Aims Multi-Sensory Environments (MSEs) are common in special-needs schools and are widely used with autistic pupils. In this exploratory sequential mixed-methods study, we explored the beliefs and experiences of practitioners who regularly use MSEs with autistic pupils. Methods Qualitative interviews with ten practitioners (9 female, aged 24–62 years) identified six themes reflecting beliefs about MSE use with autistic children. To explore wider relevance of these themes, codes from the themes were converted into a 28-item online survey. Results Qualitative themes included: (1) MSEs are perceived to benefit behaviour, attention and mood, (2) MSEs have distinct properties that facilitate benefits, (3) MSE use should be centred on the child’s needs, (4) MSEs are most effective when the practitioner plays an active role, (5) MSEs can be used for teaching and learning, and (6) MSE use can present challenges. Responses to the survey (n = 102, 93 female, aged 21–68 years) generally showed good agreement with the original interviews, and there was modest evidence that MSE training affected beliefs about the benefits of MSE use. Conclusions & Implications These results provide insight into possible benefits of MSE use for autistic children and are relevant when considering the development of practitioner guidelines.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0891-4222
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 September 2021
Date of Acceptance: 6 August 2021
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2021 10:15
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/143795

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