General Education Teachers’ Strategies for Supporting Intermediate/Senior Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Little research has investigated the ways in which teachers create inclusive mainstream classrooms in relation to their students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As a consequence, there lacks an established consensus regarding best practices and ideal teaching strategies for the support of intermediate/senior students with ASD. In this study, a qualitative research approach in the form of face-to-face semi-structured interviews with two teachers was taken to investigate the research question: how are Ontario intermediate and senior general education teachers working to create optimal learning communities for intermediate/senior students with ASD? Findings of this study suggest that teachers who demonstrate a high duty of care and build strong rapport with their students with ASD may be more equipped to tailor teaching strategies to their individual learner. Strategies may be equity-focussed (in support of specific needs) or equality-focussed (in support of all students in the classroom) to achieve academic and social success. Implications of this study suggest teachers seek out advice from their immediate support network to gain insight and practical information on best practices. Establishing professional learning communities in school settings that help teachers share effective strategies and implement consistent routines in each class can support students with ASD.
Alison McAvella is a secondary occasional teacher with the Waterloo Region District School Board and Halton District School Board. She completed her Master of Teaching degree at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), during which time she conducted a small qualitative study on teachers approaches for supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She also worked as a graduate assistant on a research study investigating the use of drama in the science classroom to bridge cognitive and affective learning domains. Taking on roles in both the teacher and researcher domains, Alison hopes these experiences will strengthen her pedagogical decision making and ability to put theory into practice.