Mara Westling Allodi - bild av Annika Falkuggla

Mara Westling Allodi


View page in English
Arbetar vid Specialpedagogiska institutionen
Telefon 08-120 764 78
Besöksadress Frescati hagväg 10
Rum 326
Postadress Specialpedagogiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

Professor i Specialpedagogik

Koordinator för Forskarskolan i Specialpedagogik med inriktning mot tidiga insatser i förskola och skola, finansierad av Vetenskapsrådet


Projektledare för SLL/SU samverkansprojekt: Stöd till extremt prematurfödda barn.

Lek och samspel för alla barn i inkluderande förskolemiljöer Läs mer

Nätverket Inkluderande Lärandemiljöer och Tidiga Insatser (ILTI) 

Stimulerande miljöer för lärande med integration av lärandets socio-emotionella komponenter

finansierad av Vetenskapsrådet Samspel i samklang med elevernas behov 


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2020. Erika Baraldi (et al.). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17 (24)

    With increasing survival rates of children born extremely preterm (EPT), before gestational week 28, the post-discharge life of these families has gained significant research interest. Quantitative studies of parental experiences post-discharge have previously reported elevated levels depressive symptoms, posttraumatic stress-disorder and anxiety among the parents. The current investigation aims to qualitatively explore the situation for parents of children born EPT in Sweden during the first year at home. Semi-structured interviews were performed with 17 parents of 14 children born EPT; eight parents were from an early intervention group and nine parents from a group that received treatment as usual, with extended follow-up procedures. Three main themes were identified using a thematic analytic approach: child-related concerns, the inner state of the parent, and changed family dynamics. Parents in the intervention group also expressed themes related to the intervention, as a sense of security and knowledgeable interventionists. The results are discussed in relation to different concepts of health, parent–child interaction and attachment, and models of the recovery processes. In conclusion, parents describe the first year at home as a time of prolonged parental worries for the child as well as concerns regarding the parent’s own emotional state.

  • 2020. Erika Baraldi (et al.). BMC Pediatrics 20 (1)

    Background: Improved neonatal care has resulted in increased survival rates among infants born after only 22 gestational weeks, but extremely preterm children still have an increased risk of neurodevelopmental delays, learning disabilities and reduced cognitive capacity, particularly executive function deficits. Parent-child interaction and parental mental health are associated with infant development, regardless of preterm birth. There is a need for further early interventions directed towards extremely preterm (EPT) children as well as their parents. The purpose of this paper is to describe the Stockholm Preterm Interaction-Based Intervention (SPIBI), the arrangements of the SPIBI trial and the chosen outcome measurements.

    Methods: The SPIBI is a randomized clinical trial that includes EPT infants and their parents upon discharge from four neonatal units in Stockholm, Sweden. Inclusion criteria are EPT infants soon to be discharged from a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), with parents speaking Swedish or English. Both groups receive three initial visits at the neonatal unit before discharge during the recruitment process, with a strengths-based and development-supportive approach. The intervention group receives ten home visits and two telephone calls during the first year from a trained interventionist from a multi-professional team. The SPIBI intervention is a strengths-based early intervention programme focusing on parental sensitivity to infant cues, enhancing positive parent-child interaction, improving self-regulating skills and supporting the infant’s next small developmental step through a scaffolding process and parent-infant co-regulation. The control group receives standard follow-up and care plus extended assessment. The outcomes of interest are parent-child interaction, child development, parental mental health and preschool teacher evaluation of child participation, with assessments at 3, 12, 24 and 36 months corrected age (CA). The primary outcome is emotional availability at 12 months CA.

    Discussion: If the SPIBI shows positive results, it could be considered for clinical implementation for child-support, ethical and health-economic purposes. Regardless of the outcome, the trial will provide valuable information about extremely preterm children and their parents during infancy and toddlerhood after regional hospital care in Sweden.

    Trial registration: The study was registered in in October 2018 (NCT03714633).

  • 2020. Rano Zakirova-Engstrand (et al.). PLoS ONE 15 (7)


    Research suggests that families’ knowledge and cultural perceptions of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and beliefs about its etiology and prognosis, can affect parents’ recognition of the first signs of autism in their children and influence help seeking and treatment decisions.


    This study investigated explanatory models of autism among parents of young children with ASD in the multicultural context of Sweden.


    Seventeen parents from diverse cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds participated in semi-structured interviews. A deductive approach to qualitative content analysis was used to analyze data. Five domains of the Explanatory Model supplementary module of the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) were used as coding categories, operationalized as ‘Parents’ understanding of autism’; ‘Autism prototypes’; ‘Causal explanations’; ‘Course of autism’, and ‘Help seeking and treatment expectations’


    The results showed that parents’ prior knowledge of autism and experience of young children’s typical developmental trajectories, as well as the opinions of children’s grandparents and preschool teachers, affected symptom recognition and help seeking. There were differences in parents’ explanatory models before and after ASD diagnosis. Initial interpretations of the disorder included medical conditions and reaction to environmental influences, while genetic, supernatural/religious factors, and vaccinations were mentioned as definite causes after obtaining a clinical diagnosis. Parents also held multiple explanatory models, influenced by the views of family members and information obtained from media or from health care professionals. Parents’ treatment decisions included use of available state-funded support services, and complementary and alternative treatments.


    The results demonstrate the utility of the CFI’s Explanatory Model supplementary module in autism research. Implications for clinical practice are discussed.

  • 2020. Laura Ferrer Wreder (et al.). The Oxford Handbook of Moral Development

    This chapter concerns theory and research relevant to child development and early childhood education and care (ECEC), which is a key ecology for human development. In this chapter, the authors provide an overview of the organizational features and processes important to understanding these settings. The authors then focus on describing the Nordic welfare model as it relates to ECEC settings, with an exploration of how certain ethics are reflected in the design, goals, and practice of ECEC settings in Sweden. The chapter then moves to summarizing and reflecting on the empirical research literature on how Swedish ECEC settings may support aspects of children’s moral development; finally, the authors pose several questions that may prove important to advancing future research in this area.

  • 2019. Mara Westling Allodi (et al.). Users' Needs Report on Play for Children with Disabilities, 104-116

    The aim of this study is twofold: firstly the aim is to give a short description of the policy context of Sweden, which is relevant for the topic of “Play for children with disabilities”, through a presentation of the legislation and the policies of stakeholders, the national and local agencies and authorities with responsibilities in this field, and of other non-governmental organizations. Secondly, the aim is to perform a mapping of the users’ needs concerning play for children with disabilities, which are emerging from available research from relevant disciplines, reports and investigations made from the authorities and organizations that have responsibilities in this field, and other relevant stakeholders in Sweden. The content of the mapping effectuated are the users’ needs, the barriers and the facilitators that are described in the identified reports.

  • 2019. Göran Ahlqvist (et al.). Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 13


    A curriculum was planned using modern concepts based on the “old” principles to test if such an educational intervention provided pupils with good mental health and a solid basis for good reading and writing skills, as well as generated a positive attitude to learn. These “old” principles were based on previous knowledge derived from school psychiatry (which in Sweden was a branch of child and adolescent psychiatry 1915–1970), educational psychology and the educational approach from the differentiating Swedish School system of 1946–1970 (itself based on the principles of curative education “Heilpädagogie”, which was later renamed mental health care).


    All six available schools in the small Swedish city of Sävsjö participated in the study. In these six schools there were eight preschool classes that included every 6-year old child living in the city. In total there were 184 families with 186 children (including 2 pairs of twins) who belonged to these preschool classes and were invited to take part in the study. One family moved just before school-start and 8 decided not to participate, thus 177 children (84 boys and 93 girls, aged 5.6–6.6 years) entered the study. The preschool classes were randomized into an experimental group with four preschool classes and a comparison group with four preschool classes. The experimental group followed a teaching program from the start of the preschool year until the end of grade 3 that was tailored to each student’s individual capacity based on the concepts of school maturation and curative education used in the Swedish schools during the period 1946–1970. The comparison group followed today’s average Swedish school curriculum. The project was planned as an intervention study covering the preschool year and the first 3 years of elementary school, which was to form a basis for a follow-up when the pupils had left senior high, the 12th year in Swedish public school. The outcome and the achievements were measured at end of grade 3 using standardized tests on reading, writing and mathematical skills. Behavior was assessed at school start and at end of grade 3 using the Child Behavior Check List (CBCL-scales) in addition to a questionnaire on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) with criteria from DSM-IV. The children made a self-evaluation of their attitude towards learning.


    At the end of school year 3, the children in the experimental group had an improved reading capacity (p = 0.002, effect size(es) = 4.35) and reading comprehension (p = 0.03, es = 0.04). They evaluated their own reading (p = 0.02, es = 0.23), writing (p = 0.007, es = 0.35) and mathematical skills (p = 0.003, es = 0.48) as going “very well” when compared to comparison group. Differences regarding intelligence quotas between the groups at the start of school had disappeared by the end of grade 3. No differences referring to CBCL were found at end of grade 3. One child in the comparison group fulfilled criteria for AD/HD, according to parents and teachers.


    The alternative curriculum covering the preschool year through the first 3 years of elementary school based on the old principles from curative education (“Heilpädagogie”), educational psychology and school psychiatry gave the children in the experimental group a better reading capacity and reading comprehension.

    Trial registration The study started in 1998. The data were collected longitudinally and prospectively but have not been analyzed until now, with the children having left senior high. A retrospective registration in the ISRCTN is pending.

  • 2019. Mara Allodi Westling (et al.).

    Aim. The aim of this presentation is to describe: - the process that we adopted in order to develop an instrument to observe play and social interaction recorded in natural preschool settings; - the contents of the instrument.

    The instrument will be used in a peer-mediated intervention based on Play Time/Social Time (Odom et al. 1997), where we need a reliable and valid measure of children’s play behaviour and social skill, which would make the external observers able to detect possible changes after the intervention and as a complement to other instruments, as teachers’ impressions ratings (TIS) and structured classroom observations (ICP).

    Background. The program PTST was translated to Swedish. The contents of the interventions were discussed with students and practitioners and tested in small scale studies, showing a good social validity (Siljehag & Allodi, 2017). A pilot study was conducted in four preschools. The analysis of data from the trial is currently ongoing.

    Procedure. We obtained an observation instrument that has been used in previous research on friendship for children with autism, the Friendship Observation Scale (FOS) (Bauminger, Aviezer & Rogers, 2004). Its contents matched fairly well our interventions’ contents.  We made a translation and adaptation. The contents of Social Participation Observation in Play (SPOP) were discussed with an expert educator from our team who tested it in field observations in preschool. After her feedback we reduced the number of behaviours to observe, retaining behaviours that were more likely to happen with young children, and that were targeted by the program. Simple Video Coder (Barto, Bird, Hamilton et al., 2017) or other available software will be used to code the videorecorded interactions. It will be used in the study: Social Interaction in play time and language activities (2018-00018) funded by  Skolforskningsinstitutet /Swedish Institute for Educational Research.

  • 2017. Mara Allodi Westling. Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Practices, 97--116

    The learning environment in the classroom with its daily interactions involves processes that can be developed and utilised to strengthen educational environments, preventing difficulties and enhancing learning for the students. Yet the classroom environments are imbedded in educational organisations that are influenced by local and national policies and by societal factors as ideologies and values. Based on analyses of reforms introduced in the Swedish Educational system and of their effects, this paper will analyse influences on the educational organisation that may thwart the traditionally agreed upon humanistic values of fairness and equity, and therefore may counteract the efforts to build developmentally healthy and effective learning environments. In planning interventions for more inclusive and successful learning environments in school, it would be opportune to consider the influence of organizational factors at broader levels, if they represent forces and values to combat.

  • 2017. Mara Allodi. Dyslexi 1, 6-10

    Tillsammans med studenter i mastersprogrammet genomfördes en analys av specialpedagogiskt stöd i några utbildningssystem som var möjliga att jämföra med det svenska systemet och som verkade framgångsrika eller åtminstone intressanta. Från en jämförelse av dessa olika modeller identifieras några komponenter som jag föreslår att vi skulle inspireras av för att kunna genomföra mer effektiva specialpedagogiska insatser i det svenska skolsystemet. En undersökning av vad som görs i andra sammanhang kan göra det tydligare för oss vad det är som saknas i specialpedagogisk praxis och ge indikationer om vilka uppfattningar som ligger bakom dessa val.

  • 2016. Mara Westling Allodi, Karin Dahlin, Monica Axelsson.

    Rapporten i detta Working Paper redovisar resultat från en utvärdering som genomfördes 2014-2015 på uppdrag av Skolverket, av försöksverksamheten med extraundervisning i svenska/svenska som andra språk. En bakgrundsbeskrivning presenteras av hur mottagandet av nyanlända har organiserats i det svenska skolsystemet. Studien presenterar beskrivningar och analyser från nio fallstudier baserade på dokumentation, observationer, intervjuer med 55 lärare, rektorer och ansvariga på utbildningsförvaltning, intervjuer med 38 elever och enkätsvar från 87 lärare. Rapporten visar att mottagande av nyanlända och extraundervisningen organiseras på olika sätt i dessa kommuner och att denna organisation är komplicerad och i några fall föränderlig. Innehållet och organisationen av extraundervisningen varierade. Det statliga bidraget ersatte inte alla kostnader för verksamheten i vissa fall. Lärarnas uppfattning överlag var att extraundervisningen hade flera positiva effekter. De intervjuade eleverna uppskattade möjligheten att få mer schemalagd undervisning med meningsfullt innehåll och tyckte att de kunde lära sig snabbare det svenska språket med denna förstärkning. Därför kan det anses vara problematiskt att inte alla nyanlända elever får ta del av denna extra satsning som extraundervisningen innebär. 

  • 2013. Mara Allodi Westling. Policy Futures in Education 11 (4), 331-363

    The principles of new public management – market mechanisms, accountability and standards – have been applied in the education system. These methods are supposed to increase efficiency, but there is also a risk of negative consequences from the services provided if the measures of performance target a reduced range of goals, ignore relevant variables or are not valid measures. Indicators used to compare schools’ performance are aggregate measures, such as the percentage of students who have access to secondary education and the average qualification value. This study reports how accountability policy and procedures may affect the functioning of the education system through the case study of a school serving a diverse student population. The school organisation was influenced by measures of performance, external events and contextual and selection variables. The average qualification value measure seems to be a limited measure of performance at the school level, since it largely reflects school composition and school segregation. Even the available performance measures adjusted for background variables do not take account of relevant variables that may influence the school’s need of resources and its results, such as students’ language proficiency and special educational needs. Other performances that are not easily measured – such as the prevention of dropout, improvement of school attendance and provision of an equitable education for all students – are disregarded. Schools serving those students with the most needs risk being penalised by an approximate and restricted range of accountability systems because there is a risk that the schools will appear to be failing when they are working with more complex and advanced tasks than average schools. Based on these inaccurate performance measurements, the school may be targeted with wide-ranging, severe and basically unjust interventions.

  • 2016. Johanna Lundqvist, Mara Westling Allodi, Eva Siljehag. European Journal of Special Needs Education 31 (1), 124-139

    In Sweden, preschool inclusion is embraced and preschools are open for children both with and without special educational needs. The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics of a number of preschool units in Sweden that provide education and care to children with special educational needs with regard to organisation, resources and quality. The purpose was also to provide reflections on the usefulness of different structured observation rating scales designed to assess preschool quality. Eight preschool units located in four Swedish districts were visited. A total of sixteen 5-year-old children with special educational needs/disability and forty typically developing children of the same age participated. The data sources were structured observation rating scales (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, Caregiver Interaction Scale and Inclusive Classroom Profile), ABILITIES Index questionnaire, unstructured observation, interviews, conversations and documents. Two overall typologies of preschool units were identified: the comprehensive units enrolled children with various special educational needs/disability, while the specialised units enrolled children with the same disability. The staff resources were greater in the specialised units. The overall quality in the observed units ranged from low to good. In units educating children with a disability diagnosis, the quality was never low. None of the preschool units was scored as having a good inclusive environment. The structured observation rating scales complemented each other and covered, in part, different quality aspects of the units. The study shows that there is a large variation in quality between the units and that there is a need to further develop the quality of the preschool units and of the services for children with special educational needs in Swedish preschools.

  • 2010. Jan-Eric Gustafsson (et al.).

    Rapporten presenterar resultaten från en systematisk översikt av forskning om skola, lärande och barns psykiska hälsa. Kungliga Vetenskapsakademiens Hälsoutskottet har givit uppdraget att genomföra en sådan översikt till en arbetsgrupp som har arbetat med uppdraget från hösten 2008 till mars 2009.

    Det första syftet med översikten är att genomföra en kartläggning av forskning inom det breda fält som behandlar frågor om skola, lärande och barns och ungdomars psykiska hälsa. Det andra syftet är att genomföra en narrativ syntes av forskning som undersökt orsaksförhållanden mellan psykisk hälsa å ena sidan och skolresultat och lärande å den andra sidan. Det tredje syftet är att redovisa resultat från forskning som har studerat svenska barns och ungdomars erfarenheter och upplevelser av skola och undervisningssituationer. För att uppnå de första två syftena genomfördes systematiska litteratursökningar i bibliografiska databaser av artiklar publicerade i vetenskapliga internationella tidskrifter inom olika discipliner. Det tredje syftet undersöktes med litteratursökningar av kvalitativa svenska studier i bibliografiska databaser.


    På grundval dels av kartläggningen av forskning om skola, lärande och psykisk hälsa, dels av de två fördjupade översikterna kan följande slutsatser dras:

    • Omfattningen av forskning som undersöker relationerna mellan olika aspekter av skola och psykisk hälsa är begränsad och i synnerhet gäller detta forskning som undersöker organisationsfaktorer och undervisnings-faktorer, aktiviteter, läroplaners utformning, resurser, specialpedagogiskt stöd, och olika former av betyg och bedömning.

    • Tidiga svårigheter i skolan och i synnerhet läs- och skrivsvårigheter kan orsaka internaliserande och externaliserande psykiska problem.

    • Svårigheter i skola och psykiska problem tenderar att vara stabila över tid.

    • Skolrelaterade hälsoproblem tenderar att minska när eleverna börjar på gymnasiet och får tillgång till nya områden av aktiviteter, roller och valmöjligheter.

    • Att genomföra stora ansträngningar utan att detta leder till resultat är relaterat till utveckling av depression.

    Problem i skolan med skolresultat och prestationer orsakar inter-naliserande symptom för flickor under tonåren.

    • Det finns samband mellan olika typer av psykiska problem och de är också relaterade till ett brett spektrum av somatiska och psykosomatiska symptom.

    • Internaliserande och externaliserande psykiska problem har negativa effekter på skolprestationer genom mekanismer som är delvis ålders- och genusspecifika.

    • Kompetenser och prestationer i skolan är relaterade till psykisk hälsa.

    • Goda resultat i skolan har en positiv effekt på självuppfattning.

    • En god självuppfattning bidrar inte direkt till bättre resultat, men andra faktorer som är relaterade till självuppfattning (motivation och upplevd inre/yttre kontroll) påverkar lärande och resultat

    • Relationer med klasskamrater och lärare bidrar till processer som kopplar skolmisslyckande till psykisk ohälsa. Relationer med kamrater och lärare kan också skydda mot utvecklingen av psykiska problem.

    • Jämförelser med klasskamrater påverkar självuppfattningen, med effekter som varierar beroende på gruppsammansättning och typ av skola.

  • 2010. Mara Allodi Westling. Learning Environments Research 13 (2), 89-104

    The purpose of this paper is to analyse reasons underlying the neglect of social climate in education. It discusses the relevance of the concept of social climate in learning environments: presenting evidence of its effects; its importance in special needs and inclusive education; presenting existing differences between settings; discussing the contribution of social climate to teachers’ professional autonomy. The arguments support the view that social climate is an essential factor in educational processes and make incomprehensible the scarce attention reserved to it in educational policy, research and teacher programs. Indications of neglect in the Swedish context are presented. The resistance towards the concept of social climate is related to a) dualistic and hierarchic views; b) characteristics of bureaucratic systems; c) reductionist interpretations; d) difficulties in handling and evaluating social values and goals; e) post-modern criticism of scientific knowledge and psychology. Implications for counteracting reductive interpretations and meeting resistance and criticism are discussed.

  • Johanna Lundqvist, Mara Allodi Westling, Eva Siljehag. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research

    Understanding how children experience life in educational settings should be an imperative for educational practitioners, evaluators and researchers. Listening to children’s points of views would facilitate the development of educational settings that meet the needs of children and contribute to their well-being and development so that their experiences are both joyful and meaningful. A total of 56 children between the ages of 5 and 7 in 65 educational settings located in central Sweden were included in the study. Amongst the 56 participating children, 29 were identified as having special educational needs. The children’s views were collected from 2012 to 2015 using drawings and interviews, and these were analysed using a thematic analysis. Nine themes that reflected matters of importance for the children, both those with and without special educational needs, are described. These themes are discussed and linked to previous research, educational evaluation models, and theories of values and needs.

  • 2017. Mara Allodi Westling, Tamara Zappaterra. Handicap, Reconnaissance et “Vivreensemble” [Recognition and “Community living”], 10-10

    The COST Action ”LUDI-Play for Children with Disabilities” is devoted to the enhancement of play for children with disabilities. In order to develop policies, practices and professional training on the topic of play for children with disabilities, it is necessary to take account of the users’ needs. Aim. The aim of the study is to investigate the users’ needs on play for children with disabilities. Method. Surveys directed to disability associations and parents, developed by the COST Action ”LUDI-Play for Children with Disabilities” were distributed to 31 coordinators and translated into 23 languages. 75 answers were collected from association in 24 countries and 129 from parents in 26 countries. Results from Associations. Play for play sake is important and essential for a wide range of reasons. Play conduces to an array of positive outcome for the child, even if it is experienced as a free activity without specific objectives. Results from parents. Play is an activity that fulfil essential needs for the child. The child’s needs were to have friends and peers, adapted and specialized toys, a knowledgeable adult; improved skills necessary to play; accessible outdoor environments; available time; societal attitudes, policy and resources. The children’s experiences of play were reported. Play is an engaging activity in which the children observe, communicate, share and experience participation. Play means positive emotions as joy, happiness, relax, excitement and fun. The children experience agency when they play. The children wanted to play for more time, to have more options, adaptions, and to overcome barriers.

Visa alla publikationer av Mara Westling Allodi vid Stockholms universitet

Senast uppdaterad: 18 december 2020

Bokmärk och dela Tipsa