Factors Influencing the Selection and Use of Strategies to Support Students with Autism in the Classroom
Rhylee Sulek, David Trembath, Jessica Paynter & Deb Keen
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may have additional needs in the classroom, resulting from delays in their development of critical school readiness skills, which include following directions and attending to tasks. Consequently, empirically supported strategies targeting these skills have been developed, yet there is evidence to suggest they are not being utilised. The aim of this study was to address this research-practice gap, by working with teachers to identify factors that contribute to their decisions to select and implement these strategies. Using a qualitative methodology and purposive sampling, 13 Australian educators were interviewed to determine factors that influence their selection of strategies to use with children with ASD, including information sources they utilised. Teachers reported that individual characteristics of the children, their own professional experience, and the need for strategies to work within their settings strongly influenced their decision-making. Further, in their efforts to make good decisions surrounding the support of students with ASD, teachers not only accessed supports provided by their school but in some cases sought out additional resources. This study helps to identify the practical considerations that influence the knowledge and use of empirically supported strategies by mainstream teachers.