Social workers' understanding of autistic spectrum disorders: an exploratory investigation

David Preece, Rita Jordan

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


How social workers perceive autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) will inevitably impact upon how they assess the needs of children with ASD and their families, and upon the types of service or interventions they seek to provide to meet those needs. However, little is known of social workers' understanding of the condition. Using a research instrument devised by Mavropoulou and Padeliadu (2000), a study was carried out of all social workers working with disabled children in an English local authority. The results showed that though many workers had a good understanding of some aspects of the condition, there was also confusion about some key facts concerning ASD, the characteristics of ASD and scientific terminology, an inaccurate understanding of intervention approaches, and a more positive attitude towards the ability of generic services to meet need than was supported by the literature. Implications are discussed in terms of the provision of services to families of children with ASD in the UK, and the limitations of the study are recognised
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2007


  • autism
  • autistic spectrum disorders
  • social workers
  • attitudes


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