Open Journal of Education
ISSN: 2328-4986

Facilitating Teachers Effective Inclusion of Students on the Autism Spectrum

Emma Goodall*

Author Affiliations:

School of Education, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Abstract:

This study was undertaken following the introduction of best practice guidelines for teachers working with students on the autism spectrum (SotAS) (Ministries of Health & Education, 2008). The research aimed to analyze the contextual factors involved in the teaching of these students in a mainstream primary school in order to ascertain if there were any factors that could increase the effectiveness of teaching SotAS. Four teachers and six SotAS were observed over a school year. Data was collected through those observations and follow up conversations with the teachers. An adapted activity theory framework was used to analyze the data and tease out the factors that created barriers to effective inclusion. The study found that existing skills and knowledge of the autism spectrum were not the key factors to being an effective teacher of SotAS. Instead teacher attitude and understanding of the actual experience of being a SotAS were found to be very important. Using of the medical model or deficit theories of the autism spectrum by teachers was found to hinder the provision of opportunities for these students. In contrast once teachers developed an understanding of a range of lived experience anecdotes and evidence, they were more able to see the potential of SotAS and therefore provide appropriate opportunities for these students to make progress.

Keywords:

Autism Spectrum, Teacher, Students, Aspergers, Teaching