Mamae Nui me te Takiwātanga: Surplus suffering and autism spectrum disorder in school social work practice


  • Liam M. Oades Counties Manukau District Health Board



Autism, SWIS, school, neuro-diversity


INTRODUCTION: This research investigates social work interventions available for Social Workers based in primary schools in Aotearoa New Zealand, to address surplus suffering related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The aim of this research is to explore possible interventions by reviewing literature, and investigating the practice of professionals, in order to discern the best possible practice. The research questions that will be investigated are: 1) How do social workers in primary schools address the surplus suffering of students?; and 2) What interventions are employed when working with children on the spectrum? There is limited relevant literature; however, the published material suggests that most social workers in schools who work with children on the spectrum employ social-ecological perspectives.

METHOD: Qualitative methodologies have been employed, focusing on semi-structured interviews that were designed to answer the pre-set questions while also taking note of other concepts and ideas raised by the interviewees. This study has employed social-ecological theory, as well as social theories of disability.

FINDINGS: This research has found that, while social workers employ social-ecological interventions readily, they are reluctant to engage in potentially beneficial therapeutic techniques.

IMPLICATIONS: The implications suggested by this research are the need for diversification in social work training, and the need for further research to discern the best school social work practice.


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How to Cite

Oades, L. M. (2021). Mamae Nui me te Takiwātanga: Surplus suffering and autism spectrum disorder in school social work practice. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 33(1), 55–66.



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