Special Educators Slow To Adopt Autism Strategies
Many teachers are failing to use some of the most effective methods for teaching students with autism, according to a new study of special education in Michigan.
The research, based on classroom observations and online surveys of over 200 special educators, paraprofessionals, parents and others involved in the schooling of students with autism, found that in more than 40 percent of cases, methods like social stories and applied behavior analysis were not being used.
“Both applied behavior analysis and social stories are established, evidence-based practices for teaching students with ASD, so this was an important finding,” said Summer Ferreri, an assistant professor of special education at Michigan State University who worked on the study that will be presented to state officials this week.
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One reason could be that many educators — particularly paraprofessionals — said that they have no formal training in the methods, the study indicates.
What’s more, even when these methods are employed, Ferreri and her colleagues note that they are often used for just a portion of the school day, even though evidence suggests they are most successful if incorporated regularly.
Beyond the teaching methods used, the study also indicates that teachers may need further training with regard to their expectations. About one in three educators said they did not expect their students with autism to meet any grade-level standards.
“Overall, our data seem to suggest that higher expectations among teachers are needed,” the study authors write. “It may be helpful to provide educators with examples of students with ASD who have succeeded in meeting high expectations when given adequate supports in order to improve their expectations and potentially encourage their active use of effective teaching approaches.”