Activity: Talk or presentation › Oral presentation
Background: Inclusion of pupils with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) into mainstream schools is becoming common practice, and teaching professionals (teachers and teaching support assistances) in the general education settings should have adequate knowledge on teaching and managing classroom behaviour. However it is found that autism awareness levels among school teachers vary across individuals. Several factors may affect their knowledge of ASD. With this in mind, the aim of the current study was to discover whether autism awareness is associated to level of education, autism specific training, personal experience and knowledge of ASD. Additionally measures of job satisfaction and perceived barriers were taken.
Methods: 120 mainstream school teachers and pupil support assistances were recruited from Scottish schools. Teachers completed the Knowledge about Childhood Autism among Health Workers (KCAHW; Bakare, Ebigbo, Agomoh & Menkiti, 2008) questionnaire which assessed their knowledge and experience of ASD. Qualitative measures were used to assess perceived barriers and job satisfaction.
Findings: Initial findings suggest that there are still large gaps in the knowledge of teaching professionals in ASD. Furthermore teachers highlighted aspects such as resources and funding when discussing barriers to inclusion of ASD children in their classroom, whereas pupil support assistances discussed more personal barriers such as knowledge or individual pupil support. Lastly, results indicate that pupil support assistances are more satisfied compared to teachers that they are performing their job well in working with children with ASD.
Discussion: The results highlight the disparities in the knowledge and awareness of ASD in teaching professionals. It also highlights the differences between school staff in what they deem important in meeting the needs with ASD pupils.