Date of Conferral
Recognizing characteristics that improve inclusion in general education classrooms allows educators and parents to make conscious decisions regarding how students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be included most appropriately. The purpose of this qualitative Delphi study was to understand the opinions of individuals with expertise in the fields of autism and inclusion as to the characteristics and behaviors within the environmental constellation that support or inhibit inclusion of elementary students with ASD. The conceptual framework was based on tenets of applied behavior analysis, multiple intelligences, and ecosystem characteristics. Research questions addressed characteristics and behaviors of general and special education teachers, other school personnel, students, and their families. Sixteen international experts responded to semistructured interviews and follow-up questions. Data were coded and distilled across three rounds. Knowledge of disabilities and effective behavior management were agreed to be important for all adults, and a sense of humor and willingness to collaborate were agreed to be important for students and adults. Participants agreed that cognitive abilities were important for students. There was no consensus on the unconditional inclusion of all students. Specific types of support and training for adults and more research by educators, parents, and professionals who work with students with ASD were recommended. Specific characteristics and behaviors of all involved are important in the development of the child. A suggested resource was created as part of this study. Being knowledgeable of how to work together support children in the general education classroom is a start for those students to become more included in the larger world.