Translating evidence-based practice into an autism specific special school: Model, evaluation and outcomes

Electronic versions


  • Katy Lee

    Research areas

  • PhD, School of Psychology, autism, autism education, special education


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been identified as the most prevalent primary need amongst school aged children in the United Kingdom (UK) requiring specific special educational provision. However, despite this prevalence, adult outcomes for those on the autism spectrum remain troublesomely bleak. Researchers have acknowledged the translational gap between research and practice within autism education and have cited the lack of practice-based research in school settings as a contributory factor. The purpose of this thesis was to begin to address the existing research-practice gap by evaluating the impact of a whole-school, evidence-informed behavioural model of practice for children and young people with autism and an intellectual disability. Research chapters begin with a rare description of a school-wide behavioural model of educational practice implemented within an autism specific special school in addition to reporting some preliminary outcomes for the children and young people attending the school (Chapter 2). Chapter 3 presents and evaluates an assessment framework used for the monitoring and evaluation of pupil progress in a special school setting. This framework is then utilised in Chapter 4 to evaluate the impact of the school-wide behavioural education model after one year of access for a group of pupils new to the school. The question then explored in Chapter 5 turns to the longer-term sustainability of outcomes for pupils from a whole-school behavioural educational model of practice. Results from these studies provide preliminary evidence that it is feasibly possible to implement an evidence-informed model of practice into a UK special school and produce positive and sustainable outcomes for pupils with autism and an intellectual disability. The findings from these studies are brought together in Chapter 6 and discussed in relation to their
contributions to the evidence-base, methodological strengths and weaknesses, avenues for future research and implications for practice.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date4 Nov 2019