How was your day? Parent, teacher and child perceptions of communication about the school day with children on the autism spectrum

Published March 2021

Children on the autism spectrum have known difficulties at school which may lead to anxiety and affect school connectedness and learning outcomes. Effective communication and increased engagement with parents is related to reduced issues with bullying at school and can be harnessed to help address problems.

The 'How was your day?' project aimed to explore the nature of home communication about the school day in families with children on the spectrum compared with children not on the spectrum. It set out to first, investigate parent, teacher and child perceptions concerning home communication about the school day, and secondly to video-record and analyse actual family interactions with children after school. We were particularly interested in whether children related stories about their experiences at school and whether parents and children engaged in discussion of possible alternative scenarios in talking about school experiences. 

Overall, the project revealed clear differences in the lived experience of the two groups of parents and of their children both in their experience of schooling and in their experience of communicating about it. The results from this project could inform the development of approaches to facilitate conversations about school between children on the spectrum and their parents as a preventative measure to minimize the impact of negative events at school.