Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Over the past decade, the number of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in public schools in a northeastern US state has almost tripled in number. Given a lack of preservice training on autism topics, many beginning special education teachers are ill prepared to meet the challenges of working in classrooms for students with ASD and current induction practices do not specifically support special education teachers. The perceived effectiveness of induction programs for beginning teachers in self-contained classrooms for students with ASD were examined in this phenomonological inquiry grounded in theories of adult learning. Through semi structured interviews that were analyzed using a modified modified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method, 7 beginning special education teachers in 3 types of public school settings discussed their perceptions regarding induction supports and the challenges they faced. Participants reported mentoring as the most effective induction component. Challenges were related to paraprofessionals, paperwork, student behaviors, and parent communication. The teachers expressed a need for induction activities relevant to the responsibilities of special education teachers and contexually relevant professional development. School districts need to understand challenges faced by beginning teachers in self-contained classrooms for students with ASD and develop induction components that support teachers in the autism field. The social implications for creating relevant induction programs are great; supporting beginning special educators in self-contained classrooms for students with ASD will retain effective teachers and may have a positive influence on student achievement and long term outcomes for students with ASD.