Challenges of Parental Role in Enhancing Academic Performance of Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Eswatini Mainstream Primary Schools

  • Agnes Tholakele Mamba University of Johannesburg, Department of Educational Psychology, P.O. Box 524, Auckland Park, Johannesburg 2006, South Africa
  • Nonhlanhla Desiree Maseko University of Johannesburg, Department of Educational Psychology, P.O. Box 524, Auckland Park, Johannesburg 2006, South Africa
Keywords: Academic Performance; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Learners; Mainstream School; Parent


Learners with autism spectrum disorder in Eswatini mainstream primary schools are showing high academic failure rate. In spite of that, the learners' parents have not been adequately capacitated on matters related to mainstreaming the learners into regular schools, yet by virtue of being parents, they are pillars of their families. This qualitative, phenomenological interpretivism study sought o explore and understand challenges of parental role in enhancing academic performance of learners with autism spectrum disorder in Eswatini mainstream primary schools. Data were collected through individual interviews, focus-group interview and document analysis, whereby we used interview guides , an audio recording system and a document analysis form to extract data from fifteen purposively sampled male and female parents and teachers of the learners with autism spectrum disorder from four mainstream primary schools in Eswatini. One striking finding of this study demonstrated that a major challenge for parents was lack of effective communication due to their absence in their meetings. Hence, schools should consider using modernised modalities of holding parents' meetings, like Microsoft Teams to allow the parents to juggle their multiple roles through a robust multi-disciplinary approach for strengthening collaboration among stakeholders. 


Adler, K., Salantera, S., & Zumstein-Shaha., M. (2019). Focus group interviews in child, youth and parent research: An integrative literature review. International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

Alharahsheh, H. H., & Pius, A. (2020). A review of key paradigms: Positivism vs. interpretivism. Global Academic Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(3), 39-43. 2020.v02i03.001.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: SM-V. American Psychiatric Association. .

Benevides, T.W., Lee, J., Kanu, N. N., & Franks, J.L. (2019). Understanding the family impact of autism spectrum disorder in a racially and ethnically diverse sample: Findings from the national survey of children with special health care needs. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 23(1), 951-960.

Bertram, C., & Christiansen, I. (2020). Understanding research: An introduction to reading research. (2nd Ed.). Van Schaik Publishers.

Bhattacharyya, R., Das, T.K., Alam, M.F., & Pervin, A. (2018). Researching domestic violence in Bangladesh: Critical reflections. Ethics and Social Welfare, 12(4), 314-329.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Qualitative research in psychology: Using thematic analysis in psychology. Routledge.

Brien, E. Z. (2019). Parental involvement and engagement in their children’s learning during primary school years. Marino Institute of Education.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The Ecology of human development. Harvard Printing Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. & Morris, P. A. (2006). The Bio-ecological Model of Human Development. In R. M. Lerner and W. E. Damon (Eds.). Handbook of Child Psychology: 1, Theoretical Models of Human Development. John Wiley and Sons.

Chalwe, K. H., Mandyata, J., & Kasonde-Ng’andu, S. (2021). Making a case on social interaction of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder: A study of selected compounds of Lusaka, Zambia. European Journal of Education Studies,8(9),78-104.

Clarke, V., Braun, V., Terry, G., & Hayfield, N. (2019). Thematic analysis. In Liamputtong, P. (Ed.). Handbook of Research Methods in Health Social Sciences, 843-860. Springer.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage Publications.

Deger, G. K. (2021). Identifying patterns in parental involvement: examining the influences on children with high-incidence disabilities’ academic achievement and future educational aspirations. Doctoral dissertation. The Pennsylvania State University.

Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. (2013). National Disability Policy. Swaziland Government.

Elliott, M. (2021). The experiences of learning facilitators in the Western Cape who work with children on the autism spectrum in mainstream schools. Master’s Thesis. Stellenbosch University.

Epstein, J. (1994). Theory to practice: School and family partnerships lead to school improvement and student success. In C. L. Fagnano. & Werber, B.Z. (Eds.), School, family, and community interaction: A view from the firing lines. Westview Press.

Epstein, J.L., Sanders, M.G., Sheldon, S.B., Simon, B.S., Salinas K., Jansom, M., & Williams, K.J., (2009). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action (3rd Ed.). Corwin Press.

Epstein, J.L., Sanders, M.G., Sheldon, S., Simon, K., Salinas, C., Jansorn, N.R., & Williams, K.J. (2019). School, family and community partnerships: Your handbook for action. (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks. CA: Corwin Press.

Epstein, J.L., & Sheldon, S.B. (2019). The importance of evaluating programmes of school, family and community partnerships, Aula abierta,48(1),31-42.

Eswatini Ministry of Education and Training. (2019). Annual Education Census (AEC) Report. Eswatini Ministry of Education and Training.

Gentles, S. J., Nicholas, D. B., Jack, S. M., McKibbon, A. K., & Szatmari, P. (2019). Parent engagement in autism-related care: A qualitative grounded theory study. Health psychology and behavioural Medicine,7(1),1-8.

Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland. (2005). Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland. Government of Swaziland.

Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland, Ministry of Education and Training. (2018). National Education and Training Sector Policy. Ministry of Education and Training.

Huttunen, R., & Kakkori, L. (2020). Heidegger’s theory of truth and its importance for quality of qualitative research. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 0(0), 1-17.

Kasongole, G., & Muzata, K. K. (2020). Inclusive Education for learners with learning disabilities in two selected primary schools of Kabwe-Zambia: A myth or reality. International Journal of Humanities Social Sciences and Education, 7(1), 1-16.

Lakshan, A.M.I., Low, M., & de Villers, C. (2021). Management of risks associated with the disclosure of future-oriented information in integrated reports. Sustainability Accountability Management and Policy Journal, 12(20), 241-266.

Leadbitter, K., McDonalds, W., Taylor, C., Buckle, K.L., & the PACT Consortium. (2020). Parents’ perceptions of participating in a parent-mediated communication-focussed intervention with their young child with autism spectrum disorder, 24(8), 2129-2141.

Lemon, L. L., & Hayes, J. (2020). The trustworthiness of qualitative findings: Using Leximancer for qualitative data analysis triangulation. The Qualitative Report, 25(30), 604-614.

Mabaso, N. P. M. (2020). Parental experiences in supporting children with intellectual disabilities in a full service school setting. Doctoral Thesis. University of Johannesburg.

Macha, V., Simui, F., & Muzata, K. K. (2020). Parents and teachers’ experiences of managing peculiar psychosocial behaviour of learners with autism spectrum disorders in selected special units in Lusaka, Zambia. Multidisciplinary Journal of Language and Social Sciences Education, 3(2), 15-42.

Maguire, M., & Delahunt, B. (2017). Doing a thematic analysis: A practical, step-by-step guide for learning and teaching scholars. AISHE-J: The All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 9(3),

McKenzie, J., Shanda, N., & Aldersey, H. M. (2020). Family-Teacher partnership: families & teachers’ experiences of working together to support learners with disabilities in South Africa. British Journal of Special Education, 48(1), 26-49, https://doi,org/10.1111/1467-8578.12337.

Mowder, B. (2005). Parent Development Theory: Understanding parents, parenting perceptions and parenting behaviors. Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 1, 45-64.

Numisi, S., Themane, M., Nel, K., & Govender, I. (2020). Parent-teacher collaboration in children with autism spectrum disorder in Limpopo province, South Africa. Journal of Human Ecology, 69, 117-126. 3208.

Reddy G., Fewster, D. L., & Gurayah, T. (2019). Parents’ voices: Experiences and coping as a parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder: South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, 49(1), 43-50.

Rekha., J.S., & Satapathy, J. (2017). Scaffolding in parenting with respect to cognitive and social development of children. International Journal of Advanced Research, 5(7), 456-465.

Salinas, K.C., Epstein, J.L., Sanders, M.G., David, D., & Douglas, I. (2019). Measure of school, family, and community partnerships. (4th Ed.). Corwin.

Samuels. P. (2019). A really simple guide to quantitative data.

Shobowale-Benson, S. (2021). Adequacy and parenting middle school-aged children: A qualitative investigation. Capella University.

Smith-Young J., Chafe, R., & Audas, R. (2020). Managing the wait: Parents’ experiences in accessing diagnostic and treatment services for children and adolescents diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Health services insights. 13, 1 -10.

Swaziland Ministry of Education and Training. (2008). Draft Inclusive Education Policy. Swaziland Government.

Swaziland Ministry of Education and Training. (2018). Grade repetition and its implications for the primary school system of Eswatini. Swaziland Ministry of Education and Training.

Tight, M. (2019). Documentary research in the social sciences. Sage Publications.

Van der Linder, J., Erasmus, S., & Kritzinger, A. (2019). Profiles of public and private autism-specific schools in Gauteng, South African Journal of Childhood Education, 9(1), 1-9.

Walker, T. (2018). Consent and autonomy. In: Muller, A., Schaber, P. (Eds.). The Routledge Handbook of the Ethics of Consent,131-139. Routledge, Oxford.

Yang, C. (2021). Moral education in mainland China today: A bio-ecological system analysis. Journal of Moral Education, 43(4), 1-15.

How to Cite
Mamba, A. T., & Maseko, N. D. (2024). Challenges of Parental Role in Enhancing Academic Performance of Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Eswatini Mainstream Primary Schools. International Journal of Social Science Research and Review, 7(5), 37-51.