Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Sandra Johnson

Abstract

Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are included or mainstreamed in general education classrooms, yet general education teachers receive little, if any, formal training for working with children with ASD. The conceptual framework for this study was differentiated instruction, which is a best practice intended to improve educational experiences for children diagnosed with ASD. The purpose of this research study was to explore general education teachers' perceptions of providing differentiated instruction to these students. The research questions examined teachers' perceptions of barriers that can affect their ability to differentiate instruction in their classrooms and strategies teachers use to facilitate the process of providing differentiated instruction in their classrooms for their students diagnosed with ASD. Eight elementary and middle school teachers participated in this phenomenological study. Content analysis of interview data provided information regarding the barriers of outdated resources and the need for additional training of general education teachers to work with students diagnosed with ASD. In addition, the participants identified 2 models used as strategies to adapt instructional practices to promote students' social and academic outcomes. Professional development could assure that teachers and administrators are aware of the latest best practices needed to teach children with ASD in the general education classrooms. By providing teachers with effective strategies needed to work with students diagnosed with autism, social change can be realized, and students with ASD can receive educational services possibly leading to a better quality of life.