Exploring student and teacher variables relating to inclusion of students with autism spectrum disorder in general education classrooms
Segall, Matthew Joel
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Although inclusion for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is often recommended by experts, the challenge of this service delivery is significant for educators. The goal of the two studies presented in this dissertation is to investigate both teacher and student variables which may affect the practice of inclusion for students with ASD. In the first study, teachers, administrators and school psychologists were assessed on their attitudes, knowledge and experience as they relate to inclusion for students with ASD. Findings suggest interesting relationships amongst these variables which differed by group; furthermore, special education teachers and school psychologists reported higher levels of knowledge and experience than general education teachers and administrators. In the second study, first grade teachers provided their opinions about the educational placement of students whose characteristics (e.g., disability label and cognitive ability) varied by experimental condition. Results suggest that students with average cognitive ability were recommended for placement in less restrictive settings than students with cognitive impairment; the presence of a disability label did not influence decision making. The limitations and implications of these studies are discussed as well as directions for future research.