Source: Aaron Burden (Unsplash)

Research conducted by Dr Kate Simpson and Associate Professor Dawn Adams from GIER and the Autism Centre of Excellence has identified the environmental barriers to participation for children on the autism spectrum in out-of-school activities.

Their research was conducted as part of a six-year Longitudinal study of Australian Students with Autism (LASA) that is funded by the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for the Living with Autism (Autism CRC). The LASA project is being undertaken by a multidisciplinary team that includes researchers and practitioners working with individuals on the autism spectrum.

Aligning with the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities, their research advocates that participation in life activities, on an equitable basis, is a human right. Dr Simpson says,

“The aim of the LASA project is to document the progress of school age children on the autism spectrum and examine individual and environmental factors associated with their progress and outcomes”.

According to Dr Simpson,
“The purpose of the current research was to identify if external factors, such as the type of activity, resources and supportiveness of the environment impacted on the participation of children on the autism spectrum in activities in the home and community”.
The findings indicate that children on the autism spectrum participate in less activities than their peers. This reduced participation may be due to external barriers impacting on a child’s ability to participate in these activities. They found that,
  • home environments generally support the child’s participation.
  • social, physical and cognitive activity demands and relationships make home participation more difficult in older children.
  • sensory, social and cognitive demands of activities impact on children’s community participation.
  • programs and services, information, and supplies to support community participation are limited.
The team’s extensive research on the participation of children on the autism spectrum in life activities can be found:
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