The problem that drove this study was the increasing number of students with autism entering the school system, and the barriers often encountered for both academic and social inclusion for students on the autism spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder, as defined by diagnostic criteria, includes deficits in social-relational communication; social-communication deficits can lead to educational impacts and limit opportunities upon transitioning from the public-school system. The purpose of this study was to examine the barriers to inclusion, which often includes the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) eligibility process itself, from the perspectives of key stakeholders to include Local Education Agency (LEA) representatives, educators, parents of students on the autism spectrum, and those over the age of 18 diagnosed with autism who attended public school. A phenomenological, qualitative study with a critical paradigm was conducted to incorporate 4 populations’ individual experiences and perspectives concerning barriers encountered to inclusion as well as suggestions for better practices through and reported successes. This research study examined the phenomena or experience of the 4 different populations to include 9 administrators/LEA representatives, 11 educators, 8 parents, and 7 former students of the public education system. The findings suggest several barriers to inclusion from each perspective and that collaboration of the IEP team is key to the development and implementation of successful IEPS that include both academic and social inclusion goals. Suggestions for inclusive education were explored, described, and outlined from those who experienced the process of or lack of inclusive practices and those who strive to create inclusive environments for students on the autism spectrum. Keywords: autism, inclusion, collaboration, conflict resolution, self-determination theory
Holmes, Stephanie, "Creating an Inclusive Climate for Students on the Autism Spectrum" (2020). School of Educational Leadership. 5.
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