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Most Teachers Favor Inclusion for Autistic Students

WEDNESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of general education teachers support the notion of including autistic children in a regular classroom environment, a small new survey suggests.

Overall, the eight general education teachers surveyed expressed positive views of inclusion for children with autism, but they felt additional resources would help ensure success in a mainstream classroom.

Survey co-authors P. Rosen and E. Rotheram-Fuller, of Temple University, and D. S. Mandell, from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, are scheduled to present the findings Wednesday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in San Diego.

The teachers surveyed worked in a single, large urban school district. Each had between one and four students with autism already present in classrooms that catered to an average of 25 students. The majority of the autistic students spent at least half a day enrolled in a general education setting, according to a meeting news release.

On average the teachers had more than 10 years of experience, although specific work with autistic students ranged from none to 15 years.

The preliminary results revealed that all the teachers shared a positive perspective on including autistic children in an otherwise standard classroom setting.

Doing so was completely appropriate for 44 percent of students, and somewhat appropriate for 33 percent of students, they said. And as a whole, those surveyed indicated that they felt most of the autistic students (66 percent) would do well to remain in their current classroom situation.

However, for 22 percent of students, inclusion was considered somewhat inappropriate, and for one-third of students, a different, more restrictive environment would be better, the teachers said.

Regardless of their views, the teachers generally expressed confidence in their ability to handle autistic students, while at the same time observing that not all of the children were adequately prepared for the demands of a general education environment.

Overall, the participants suggested that more resources were needed to help promote social interaction between autistic students and their healthy peers. Also necessary: continued support from special education teachers and training in how to meet the demands of individual education plans, they said.

Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary because it has not been subject to the scrutiny required for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

To learn more about autism, visit Autism Speaks.

-- Alan Mozes

SOURCE: International Meeting for Autism Research, news release, May 11, 2011

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