NEEDS NEW APPROVAL FROM JOHN AFTER MOVING QUOTES AROUND!! ALSO NEED TO FIX PULL-OUT QUOTES!
Teachers in one school district expressed a strong desire to improve inclusive education for students with autism spectrum condition (ASC), yet acknowledged feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at times. Teachers participated in discussion groups orchestrated by a research team based at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to share their perspectives. The project included 34 teachers from elementary through high school with varying levels of teaching experience. The cohort emphasized the need for applied experiences for pre-service teachers and collaboration among general educators, special educators, and parents to support student success.
Fernanda Orsati, associate clinical researcher at the Hussman Institute for Autism, agrees that the challenges associated with inclusive education can be daunting for general education teachers—but one more training may not provide a “magic solution,” she said. “It’s a lot more about problem-solving every day and being creative.”
Teachers in the UNC study longed for greater knowledge about ASC in general, as well as specifics about each of their students. Teachers bemoaned the complexity and length of Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and wished for condensed versions describing each student’s distinctive characteristics and accommodations. Special educators in this study expressed that IEPs focused almost exclusively on academics at the expense of social development, but that imbalance may not be universal. According to Orsati, finding a balance between academic and social goals and including family input is the key for successful IEP implementation.
If parents could provide an “introduction to my child” sheet at the start of the school year, teachers felt it would improve and hasten the support they provided. Orsati encouraged increased communication beyond September. “There is a need for school/home communication more often,” she said, “and that could help the work that’s being done be extended to home and the other way as well.” Most teachers today have email, and some even hand out their cell phone numbers to parents, which facilitates quick exchanges on a regular basis.
The research article is published here:
Able H., Sreckovic M.A., Schultz T.R., Garwood J.D., Sherman J. 2015. Views from the trenches: Teacher and student supports needed for full inclusion of students with ASD. Teacher Education and Special Education. 38(1):44-57.
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