School Culture that Facilitates the Inclusion of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Mainstream Classrooms
Autism prevalence is rapidly increasing in the United States, and more and more general education teachers are finding children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) included in their classrooms. While these students frequently have the capacity to perform academically, they often need extra social and behavioral support. This paper seeks to establish the kind of school environment that is most beneficial for the social and behavioral development of students with autism and their typically developing peers in the mainstream classroom, as well as how the general education teacher can be supported in establishing this environment. With three primary learners in mind – the student with ASD, the typical peer, and the general education teacher – the inclusion setting is explored, the curricular needs of each learner are identified, and goal setting and assessments are discussed. Two whole-school, tiered models provide promising structures for helping address many of these elements. Effective inclusion of children with autism in the mainstream classroom requires consideration of all of these elements; implications are discussed.