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Expectations and experiences of a dance programme for autistic children: A qualitative study of parents, teachers and therapists

Golding, A., Ambrose, Z., Lara, J. , Malamateniou, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2352-8575 & Green, D. (2024). Expectations and experiences of a dance programme for autistic children: A qualitative study of parents, teachers and therapists. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 24(3), pp. 653-666. doi: 10.1111/1471-3802.12661


This study explores the expectations of dance therapists/practitioners and parents and teachers of autistic children engaging in a developmental dance programme. Information gathered will support development of an evaluation tool aligned with the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) Core Sets for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A qualitative study included a convenience cohort of teachers (n = 6), parents (n = 2) of children with ASD and therapists (n = 3). Three role specific focus groups were undertaken considering potential benefits and challenges of the programme. Content and thematic analysis was undertaken using NVivo12. Findings reflected four positive themes relating to behaviour, skills, social interaction and environmental supports. Therapists, teachers and parents focused differently on stereotypical and restricted behaviours, environmental supports and habits and routines respectively. These themes also emerged as challenges (to implement/achieve); with parents identifying more emotional and behavioural restrictions. A fourth challenge theme of transferability of skills emerged from teachers and therapists. Items mapped against 28 ICF Core Sets (across the lifespan) and six to ICF categories, with creativity and imagination mismatched. Findings highlight need for a specific outcome measure for dance and/or movement programmes for autistic individuals that captures meaningful functions across ICF domains for differing stakeholders.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2024 The Authors. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of National Association for Special Educational Needs. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: autism spectrum disorders, child development, Dance, movement disorders
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
SWORD Depositor:
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