A Model of Practice for Building Teacher Capacity in Educating Young School-age Children on the Autism Spectrum: User Perspectives
Wendi Beamish, Libby Macdonald, Stephen Hay, Annalise Taylor, Jessica Paynter & Madonna Tucker
The increasing number of children on the autism spectrum entering mainstream schools requires classroom teachers with the knowledge and skills to create supportive and inclusive environments in which these students can thrive. This paper reports the perspectives offered by 33 teachers who volunteered to trial an Early Years Model of Practice (EY-MoP) designed to provide information and guidance on foundational practices supportive of students on the spectrum. All teachers worked in Australian primary schools and had at least one student on the spectrum in their early years classrooms. In pre-and post-trial interviews, teachers shared their impressions of, and experiences with, the EY-MoP. In general, they endorsed the model as a resource outlining foundational practices for working with students on the spectrum. Insights shared pointed to the positive impact that this kind of comprehensive, foundational resource can have on teaching practice both in everyday planning and as a reflective tool. Responses also indicated that the model enhanced teachers’ knowledge and confidence in supporting students on the spectrum. Taken together, these teacher data provide preliminary evidence for the viability of the EY-MoP as a resource to support both beginning and experienced teachers in their work with young children on the spectrum.