Date of Award

Fall 2021

Publication Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

C. Cobb

Second Advisor

C. Grieg

Third Advisor

S. Bennett


CLD Parental Involvement, IPRC/IEP Processes, Parent perception



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Though educational legislation in Ontario promotes parental involvement in special education, collaboration between educators and families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds must be improved. Thus, this qualitative study explored the lived realities of five immigrant Indian and Pakistani families of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as they navigated Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings. Via semi-structured interviews, the study details how these parents understood, perceived, and experienced their roles in a collaborative relationship between special education and school personnel and themselves, before, during, and after the IEP meeting. The analysis was informed by four theoretical frameworks: Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s Model for Parental Involvement (1995, 1997), Bourdieu’s theory of capitals, Foucault’s analytics of power, and Positioning theory. The findings suggest that Indian and Pakistani parents encounter a number of barriers that prevent meaningful participation in their child’s special education, including unfamiliarity with the schooling system and a lack of knowledge regarding special education services and legislation. The participants showcased varying levels of capital, though most found themselves oscillating between five distinct positions when interacting and negotiating with special education professionals: the disenfranchised dependent, the trusting caregiver, the child expert, the lonely advocate, and the hopeful partner. Being aware of and addressing these barriers and dynamics can improve special education processes within schools, education boards, and teacher education programs.