Attitudes of Student Teachers towards the Inclusion of Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder into the Mainstream School
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: There are an increasing number of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) being educated in mainstream schools; however concerns have been raised regarding the current effectiveness of their inclusion. The literature suggests that effective inclusion depends in part on teachers’ attitudes. This suggests that it would be beneficial to ensure that student teachers are entering the profession with positive attitudes towards including children with ASD. Aims: To examine the attitudes of student teachers towards the inclusion of children with ASD into the mainstream primary school, and to investigate the impact of participant variables upon attitudes. Methods & Procedures: A questionnaire was designed to examine the three components of attitude –Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural. The questionnaire was distributed via email to student teachers for completion online. Outcomes & Results: Student teachers overall were found to be positive towards the inclusion of children with ASD, however the range in scores was high suggesting that responses were variable between participants. Differences in participants’ sex, education type, direct exposure to ASD and academic experience of ASD were all found to affect different components of attitude and confidence levels. Conclusions & Implications: In order to encourage positive attitudes and prepare prospective teachers for including children with ASD, teacher training courses would benefit from ensuring that students are exposed to at least three hours of academic experience regarding ASD. Findings highlight that it would be beneficial for the Speech and Language Therapy service to deliver training and information regarding including a child with ASD to teacher training courses, with a priority to PGCE courses. Implications for future research were discussed.
BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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