Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Peggy P. Wittman

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy


The purpose of this ethnographic study is to understand the culture of Westridge Elementary School (WRE), and its approach to the increasing numbers of mainstreamed students with special needs; in particular students identified with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The researcher examined the language, norms, and rituals of WRE, and how children with ASD are involved. Data from this research was collected through five face-to-face interviews, as well as participant observations, which were collected over a 2-3 week period in the spring and fall of 2010. Photographs of the school environment, along with the collection of artifacts, were also used to analyze the culture of WRE. The researcher developed a cultural portrait of WRE, to discuss further research development on the mainstreaming of students with disabilities, and provide professionals with insight into how ASD culture impacts a public school setting.