‘Interrupted Interviews’: listening to young people with autism in transition to college


  • Jacqui Shepherd University of Sussex
  • Jacqui Shepherd School of Education and Social Work, University of Sussex




transition, autism, special school, further education, visual methods


This article examines the methodological approaches used in a research project that investigated the lived experiences of young people with autism as they made the transition from special schools to mainstream colleges of Further Education. A combination of visual methods using iPad applications and walking interviews were explored in an attempt to develop ways of engaging young people with autism in research and to privilege their voice in their own transition. The strengths and challenges of these methods are examined here and illustrated through the experience and responses of one young person in the study and his engagement with the research.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Jacqui Shepherd, University of Sussex

ESRC PhD student, School of Education and Social Work


Booth, T. & W. Booth (1996), 'Sounds of Silence: Narrative research with inarticulate subjects' Disability & Society, 11(1), 55–70

Breakey, C. (2006), The Autism Spectrum and Further Education: a Guide to Good Practice, London: Jessica Kingsley.

Brewster, S.J., L. Therapist and K. Norton (2004), 'Putting words into their mouths ? Interviewing people with learning disabilities and little/no speech', British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32, 166–169

Cameron, L. and J. Murphy (2002), 'Enabling young people with a learning disability to make choices at a time of transition', British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30 (3), 105–112

Chown, N. and N. Beavan (2012), 'Intellectually capable but socially excluded ? A review of the literature and research on students with autism in further education', Journal of Further and Higher Education, 36 (4), 477–493

Clark, A. and N. Emmel (2010), Realities Toolkit # 13. Using walking interviews, NCRM

DfE, BIS, DWP, DoH and Ministry of Justice (2014), Children and Families Act, London: HMSO

DfE (2008), Education and Skills Act, London: HMSO

Gubrium, J. and J. Holstein (2002), From the Individual Interview to the Interview Society in Gubrium J. and J.Holstein (eds), Handbook of Interview Research, London: Sage, pp.3-33.

Harrington, C. and M. Foster (2013), 'Engaging young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder in research interviews', British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42 (2), 153-161

DfE and DoH (2014), Special Educational Needs and Disabilties (SEND) Code of Practice : for 0 to 25 years, London: HMSO

Kanner, L. (1943), 'Autistic disturbances of affective contact', Nervous Child, 2, 217-250.

Kvale, S. and S. Brinkmann (2009), Interviews, Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing, London: Sage

Lewis, A. (2001), 'Reflections on interviewing children and young people as a method of inquiry in exploring their perspectives on integration/inclusion', Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 1: no. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-3802.2001.00146.x

Lewis, A., H.Newton and S. Vials (2008), 'Realising child voice: the development of Cue Cards', Support for Learning, 23(1), 26-31

Lewis, A. and B. Norwich (2005), Special Teaching for Special Children? Maidenhead: OUP

Lewis, A. and J. Porter (2004), 'Interviewing children and young people with learning disabilities: guidelines for researchers and multi-professional practice', British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32(4), 191-197

Milton, D. and R. Mills and L. Pellicano (2012), 'Ethics and autism: where is the autistic voice? ', Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44 (10), 2650-2651

Mitchell, W. (1999), 'Leaving Special School: The next step and future aspirations', Disability & Society, 14 (6), 753–770

Nind, M. (2009), 'Conducting qualitative research with people with learning, communication and other disabilities: methodological challenges', Available at: http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/491/

Nind, M. and H. Vinha (2013), 'Practical considerations in doing research inclusively and doing it well : Lessons for inclusive researchers', NCRM Methodological Review Paper

Nind, M. (2014), What is inclusive research? London: Bloomsbury

Palikara, O., G. Lindsay and J. Dockrell (2009), 'Voices of young people with a history of specific speech and language difficulties in the first year of post-16 education', International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 44 (1), 56–78

Preece, D. (2002), 'Consultation with children with autistic spectrum disorders about their experience of short-term residential care', British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30, 97-104

United Nations, (2008), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml accessed 10th November 2014

Weiss, R.S. (1994), Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies New York: Simon & Schuster

Wing, L. (1996), The Autistic Spectrum, London: Constable & Robinson

Poster of school subjects






Inequality in Education – Innovation in Methods