Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Secondary Education and Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Ali Hachem

Second Advisor

Dr. Karen Embry Jenlink

Third Advisor

Dr. Patrick M. Jenlink

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Summer Koltonski


High Functioning Autistic (HFA) boys have significant social, emotional, and cognitive difficulties and unique cognitive abilities that require special support from stakeholders in their ecology (policy makers, care providers, schools, and parents). The quality of such support and its ecological integration are of poor quality. The purpose of this study was to report on the perceptions of parents of HFA boys about their children’s academic and beyond-academic experiences as understood within a policy-care provider-school-parent ecological framework. This study contributes to the limited ecological literature on the topic. This exploratory, qualitative, phenomenological, non-experimental, and cross-sectional research study used a non-probability, purposive, maximum-variation sampling technique. The unit of analysis was the HFA boy. Semi-structured, two-level, synchronous, online interviews were used, and data were analyzed using coding and thematic analysis. Support of HFA boys from the different stakeholders was found to be of poor quality. Conflicting interactions between medical and educational policy practices abound. Medical care providers are failing to diagnose, refer, and support HFA boys. Schools lack in HFA knowledge and training, and access to special education is not easy. The parents face major struggles when seeking guidance and support from both care providers and schools. They, however, have invaluable experiences that should be considered. The ecological integration of support is also inconsistent and ineffective, characterized by poor dynamics, interrelations, communications, and collaborations. Unless the HFA child’s ecology embraces data-driven decision-making, ecological collaboration, research-based interventions, and school-wide strategies, the academic success and beyond-academic wellbeing of HFA boys will continue to suffer.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Tuesday, April 29, 2025



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