A study of the outcomes of collaborative and structured support for primary school teachers to facilitate inclusive education for students with autism spectrum disorder

Author: Janine Bounds

Bounds, Janine, 2009 A study of the outcomes of collaborative and structured support for primary school teachers to facilitate inclusive education for students with autism spectrum disorder, Flinders University, School of Medicine

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Australian commonwealth legislation and government education policies (Victoria, Australia) indicate a commitment to schools becoming more inclusive and responsive to the diversity of students' needs. The current study was designed as a model of how policy might become part of practice for primary school students who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The implemented model was based on guidelines in the Autism Spectrum Disorder Inclusion Collaboration Model (Simpson, de BoerOtt, & SmithMyles, 2003) and the Integrative Model of Effective Educational Intervention (Kunce, 2003). Key elements of the model were: whole school training, ongoing training and support of the teacher (and teacher aide) in relation to a particular student, parental involvement, and involvement of an autism consultant for four months. Particular emphasis was placed on the need for collaborative and equitable relationships between the parties supporting the student and the benefit of structured interventions across multiple domains of student functioning.

Eighteen primary school students (512 years) participated in the study across nine mainstream rural and regional schools. The primary aim of the study was to assess the effect of support of teachers on student behaviour. Students were allocated into one of two groups. In the first time period Group One received the intervention and Group Two was a waitcontrol group. In the second time period Group Two received the intervention. Quantitative measures of the controlled part of the study were undertaken in relation to behaviours specifically related to an Autism Spectrum Disorder using questions from the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO). In the first time period results indicated an improvement in Total behaviours specifically related to Autism Spectrum Disorders and particularly Selfcare, Communication, Social Interaction, and Repetitive and Stereotyped Behaviours. Similar results were found in the second time period. Measures of executive functioning and clinical problem behaviours using other instruments were also undertaken pre and post each group's intervention period. No significant changes in executive functioning were evident. However, teacher and parent report both indicated a significant improvement in Attention Problems and Aggressive Behaviours for the sample. Teacher and parent gains were also measured qualitatively. Teachers reported marked gains in knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorders and educational interventions and parents reported positive gains in knowledge and especially gains from increased communication with teachers.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Mainstream Education, Models of Teaching, Collaborative Model, Integrative Model, Whole School Training, Direct Support of Teachers, Parental Involvement

Subject: Disability Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2009
School: School of Medicine
Supervisor: Unknown