Teachers are largely in favor of including students with autism in mainstream classrooms, but say that kids with the developmental disorder tend to be unprepared for the general education environment.

Those are the results of a small, pilot study that surveyed general education teachers about their experiences instructing children with autism.

In presenting the ongoing research last week at the International Meeting for Autism Research in San Diego, David Mandell of the University of Pennsylvania said the preliminary findings are a mixed bag.

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“At least when we think about beliefs and attitudes, teachers in a general education setting feel that it’s appropriate for these children to be included,” said Mandell.

However, Mandell and his colleagues found it concerning that general education teachers seemed to be putting the onus for inclusion on students rather than themselves.

Survey results indicate that teachers believe they are well-prepared to have children with autism in their classrooms, but many said students with the developmental disorder are not ready for the rigor of their classes.

“Teachers are putting the burden for inclusion on the child rather than thinking about the adaptations that might be necessary in the classroom for that child to be fully included,” Mandell said. “We’re going to have to do some values clarification with teachers.”