Wellbeing of Students with Autism Spectrum Traits in Regular Education during School Transition into Secondary School and the Influence of the STAP Intervention
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The transition from primary school to secondary school in regular education can be challenging for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or with autism spectrum (AS) traits. Lacking adaptive skills can negatively impact the general wellbeing of these children compared to typically developing peers. A newly researched intervention called STAP (the Dutch version of STEP-ASD) aims to help children with ASD or AS traits in their school transition by supporting their school and teachers in adapting to the needs of the child. The current study used a longitudinal, experimental design with matched groups to examine how the wellbeing of children with ASD or AS traits (N = 24) develops during school transition in regular education and whether the STAP intervention significantly improves self-reports of wellbeing compared to no intervention. Wellbeing was pre-measured at the end of primary school with the SchoolVragenLijst (SVL) and was tested again twice in the first year of secondary school. Contrary to expectations, a one-way repeated measures ANOVA analysis did not confirm the hypothesis that wellbeing changes during the school transition. Additionally, a mixed ANOVA analysis showed that the STAP intervention did not significantly improve wellbeing during the transition. Due to limitations, results cannot provide definitive conclusions. However, the current study highlights the need for extensive research to determine the development of wellbeing at school of children with AS traits or ASD in regular education. In addition, interventions like STAP should be investigated to define practical implications for teachers and parents to support these children.
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