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The participation of young children with special educational needs in decision-making about their education, health and care

Lydiatt, K; (2016) The participation of young children with special educational needs in decision-making about their education, health and care. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

All children have a human right to participate in making decisions that affect their lives; yet, it is not clear whether young children with special educational needs (YCS) are enjoying this right. There is a growing body of research on the participation of older children with special educational needs (SEN) and young children without SEN in decision-making. However, there is a paucity of research on the participation of YCS in decision-making. This study explores the participation of two four year-old YCS through a three-phase, ethnographic research design. The first phase uses observation and semistructured interviews to address how YCS participate in decision-making at home and school, including the “culture of participation” that they experience. The second phase develops and implements a range of participatory tools to investigate how the children can share their views. Observation and video recordings are used to document their views and engagement with the tools. Phase 3 implements semi-structured and email interviews to explore teachers’ and parents’ perspectives about the participatory tools. The findings suggest that YCS mostly engage in autonomous, opportunistic decision-making about their everyday lives, with few opportunities for them to participate in decision-making that may have long-term consequences. This thesis offers the idea that YCS experience a cultural mosaic of participation where both individual and group beliefs, policies and practices about participation, the child and their SEN influence a child’s role in decision-making. YCS are found to be able to share their views through using multiple multi-media tools over time, developed with them based on their preferred methods of communication, ability and motivation. Phase 3 findings suggest that collaborative reflection on the information gathered with the children is important. Implications for educational psychologists, professionals and services working with YCS are proposed, as well as for researchers engaging in participatory research.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The participation of young children with special educational needs in decision-making about their education, health and care
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1474439
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