Original Research

Parental involvement in the case of primary school children with autism during COVID-19

Mareli Janse van Rensburg, Mary G. Clasquin-Johnson
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 13, No 1 | a1296 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v13i1.1296 | © 2023 Mareli Janse van Rensburg, Mary G. Clasquin-Johnson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 November 2022 | Published: 15 December 2023

About the author(s)

Mareli Janse van Rensburg, Department of Inclusive Education, College of Education, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Mary G. Clasquin-Johnson, Department of Inclusive Education, College of Education, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Parental involvement is crucial for the holistic development of a child with autism, with parents forming an integral part of educational planning and interventions.

Aim: This qualitative study aims to understand teachers’ perceptions of parental involvement during the COVID-19 pandemic in the case of primary school children with autism.

Setting: This study was conducted with 12 teacher participants from four primary schools that accommodate learners with autism in the Western Cape, South Africa.

Methods: We conducted individual semi-structured online interviews that were recorded, supplemented by field notes and policy documents related to parental involvement. Data collection and data analysis were informed by Epstein’s model of parental involvement.

Results: Teachers encountered barriers when attempting to build positive partnerships with parents of children with autism during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers excluded parents from decision making and their reliance on technology created additional barriers. Teachers failed to recognise that parental involvement was largely determined by their access to devices and data.

Conclusion: Teachers and parents should work collaboratively to build trusting relationships characterised by effective communication and a shared commitment to overcoming barriers to parental involvement. Schools that participated relied on alternative innovative ways to involve and communicate with parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, it can be concluded that schools can take the lead to facilitate parental involvement even when parents seem unwilling and hesitant to take responsibility.

Contribution: Epstein’s model of parental involvement can be used by schools to create enabling environments that will promote involvement at primary school level.


Keywords

autism spectrum disorder; barriers; COVID-19; education; parental involvement; partnerships; primary school teachers

Metrics

Total abstract views: 1787
Total article views: 1128


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.