Advances in Inclusive Autism Research and Practice: Co-produced Understandings of Inclusion and Educational Support

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102). This special issue belongs to the section "Special and Inclusive Education".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2024 | Viewed by 12074

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Graduate Research School and Centre for Health Research, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba 4350, Australia
Interests: developmental psychology; disability studies and autism; inclusive research

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Springfield 4300, Australia
Interests: disability and autism; specialist studies in education; developmental psychology
Centre for Health Research, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba 4350, Australia
Interests: autism; autistic experiences across the life span; inclusive education; neurodevelopmental disabilities; interoception

Special Issue Information

Perspectives from the Autistic and autism communities have historically been marginalized within education research, and recent discussions have highlighted the need for meaningful engagement in order to strengthen both research practices and academic and practical understandings within the field (e.g., Poulsen et al., 2022). This Special Issue will prioritize co-produced research and focus on engaged research approaches in understanding inclusive practices within educational contexts.

The papers comprising this Special Issue will share a common focus on the importance of co-produced knowledge and the prioritizing of Autistic perspectives and contributions to both research and practice. Co-production practices within each of the papers need to be explicitly addressed in the contributions via a clear statement on the co-production participation and other aspects of the paper that prioritize Autistic lived experience. Papers may focus on discussions of co-production broadly or present work on inclusive education specifically that is developed through a co-produced approach to the research problem.

It is anticipated that the collection will make both individual and joint contributions to the research and professional narratives on inclusivity within educational contexts. Emerging issues for potential focus include but are not limited to the following themes:

  • Reflections on co-produced research;
  • Experiences of children within educational contexts;
  • Alternative educational contexts (e.g., home-schooling);
  • Developing skills in educators to create positive learning environments;
  • Transitions beyond compulsory education;
  • Experiences of Autistic students in Higher Education.

Dear Colleagues,

We are guest editing a special issue of Education Sciences titled ‘Advances in Inclusive Autism Research and Practice: Co-produced Understandings of Inclusion and Educational Support’.

We would like to draw your attention to the call for papers: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/education/special_issues/XZ77XLJNJM.

For more information about Education Sciences please visit: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/education.

Prof. Dr. Charlotte Brownlow
Dr. Yosheen Pillay
Dr. Emma Goodall
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Education Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • co-production
  • inclusive research
  • inclusive education
  • educational support
  • autism
  • autistic voice
  • lived experience

Published Papers (6 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

20 pages, 1323 KiB  
Article
Earning Your Way into General Education: Perceptions about Autism Influence Classroom Placement
by Emily Frake, Michelle Dean, Linh N. Huynh, Suzannah Iadarola and Connie Kasari
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(10), 1050; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13101050 - 19 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1860
Abstract
The language used by teachers, school staff, and parents to talk about autistic students can send either positive or negative messages to other school staff, parents, and all students—with or without autism—about autistic students. Ultimately, these messages also extend to autistic people. Using [...] Read more.
The language used by teachers, school staff, and parents to talk about autistic students can send either positive or negative messages to other school staff, parents, and all students—with or without autism—about autistic students. Ultimately, these messages also extend to autistic people. Using qualitative focus group methods, we talked to parents, teachers, administrators, and other school staff to better understand how people speak about the inclusion of autistic students in general education classrooms in public schools. Overall, we found that many of our participants thought (1) autistic students need to earn their way into general education classrooms, unlike their peers without disabilities, (2) segregating students with disabilities away from their peers without disabilities is acceptable, and sometimes preferable, in school settings, and (3) there is power in inclusive education opportunities for students with and without disabilities in school settings. The findings from this study suggest that inclusive opportunities for autistic students were largely driven by stakeholder mindsets. These results should encourage school staff to think about and reflect on how they talk about autistic students in inclusive settings with the ultimate goal of creating more welcoming inclusive environments for autistic students. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

18 pages, 609 KiB  
Article
Autistic Students’ Experiences, Opportunities and Challenges in Higher Education in Singapore: A Qualitative Study
by Elinor Lim, Shawn Wong, Emine Gurbuz, Steven K. Kapp, Beatriz López and Iliana Magiati
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(8), 818; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13080818 - 10 Aug 2023
Viewed by 2037
Abstract
The number of autistic people entering higher education (HE) is increasing steadily across the globe, yet research on understanding their experiences and support needs still focuses almost exclusively on the perspectives of autistic students attending HE in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. The [...] Read more.
The number of autistic people entering higher education (HE) is increasing steadily across the globe, yet research on understanding their experiences and support needs still focuses almost exclusively on the perspectives of autistic students attending HE in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. The present study sought to explore and understand (i) the experiences, opportunities, and challenges of autistic students in HE in Singapore; and (ii) non-autistic HE students’ experiences of studying alongside and socially engaging with their autistic peers. Twenty autistic and twenty-two non-autistic HE students in Singapore completed an online survey with open-ended questions. Framework analysis identified themes similar to those in the extant literature (e.g., autistic students enjoyed greater autonomy in HE compared to school, but often found difficulty juggling their numerous academic responsibilities) and novel themes pertaining to Singapore’s unique sociocultural context (e.g., Singaporean autistic people face high pressure to “blend in” due to societal values of conforming to social norms). Participants also noted considerable social isolation of autistic students, likely linked to a double empathy problem between autistic and non-autistic students. Improving inclusiveness both within HE and in the wider society is a necessarily joint effort among many stakeholders. Recommendations include HE stakeholders working together to develop and improve supports (e.g., implementing formal transition programmes) for autistic students and incorporating neurodiversity education into school curricula for all students. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

17 pages, 534 KiB  
Article
Same Word, Same Picture, Different Responses: Exploring Teachers’ and Autistic Adolescents’ Conceptions of Autism
by Vanessa Alexander and Kerry Bissaker
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(7), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13070734 - 19 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1239
Abstract
Individuals’ understandings of autism vary significantly, with multiple factors influencing their conceptions of autism. Varying conceptions between teachers and students in inclusive school settings may lead to diminished educational experiences for both groups. Our research was focused on exploring the influences on teachers’ [...] Read more.
Individuals’ understandings of autism vary significantly, with multiple factors influencing their conceptions of autism. Varying conceptions between teachers and students in inclusive school settings may lead to diminished educational experiences for both groups. Our research was focused on exploring the influences on teachers’ and autistic students’ conceptions or misconceptions of autism. We were also interested in whether more implicit influences, including the commodification of autism, influence teachers’ and autistic students’ conceptions of autism. To ensure the research respected the needs of the young autistic participants, the purposes and processes involved in the research design were presented to a group of autistic adults for feedback and recommendations. Therefore, this paper presents two distinct aspects of the research: the outcomes of engagement with autistic adults in the design phase of the research and the outcomes of engaging with the research participants, six teachers, and four autistic adolescents. The qualitative research involved semi-structured interviews and photo-elicitation responses. A key starting question encouraged the participants to share a feeling, memory, or image on hearing the word autism, and following an exploration of their responses, they were invited to select a photo from those presented that reminded them of an aspect of autism. The autistic adults contributed to the selection of the final twelve black-and-white images used in the photo-elicitation process. The adults were asked to select those they felt most closely represented their conceptions of autism. Of interest, only one photo was chosen in common by all research participants, but their explanations for choosing the image varied. Responses to other selected photos are also shared to highlight the varied conceptions of autism generated by the teachers and autistic students and the explicit and implicit influences on their conceptions. The influence of lived experiences and the commodification of autism were evident in the participants’ responses. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 1092 KiB  
Article
Navigating University: The Design and Evaluation of a Holistic Support Programme for Autistic Students in Higher Education
by Charlotte Brownlow, Neil Martin, Donna-Marie Thompson, Amelia Dowe, Ding Abawi, Jessica Harrison and Sonja March
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(5), 521; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13050521 - 20 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1555
Abstract
Successfully engaging with university study can be challenging for autistic students and has been highlighted in the research literature as an area of concern. This study sought to address support for autistic students at one Australian university through the development of a bespoke [...] Read more.
Successfully engaging with university study can be challenging for autistic students and has been highlighted in the research literature as an area of concern. This study sought to address support for autistic students at one Australian university through the development of a bespoke programme called A-Skills. The programme was co-designed with autistic students drawing on principles of self-determination theory and it aimed to develop study and student life skills. This paper presents a longitudinal evaluation of the programme using semi-structured interviews and user engagement metrics from the online platform. Our findings indicated that engagement with the programme varied between individuals but adopting a principle of co-design ensured that the topics of focus were important to the needs of the students it sought to support. Further, interview data suggested both positive sentiment and value towards the initiative amongst participants. Although online delivery enabled choice, there were potential challenges in fostering relatedness, which was addressed to some degree through synchronous online weekly sessions facilitated by an autistic student. Core to the success of A-Skills is the co-design approach as a central principle in the design, development and evaluation of the programme. With continued research and iterative design, the programme could be adopted more widely. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

22 pages, 919 KiB  
Article
Teacher Mental Health Literacy and Child Development in Australian Primary Schools: A Program Evaluation
by Melissa Bowyer, Erich C. Fein and Govind Krishnamoorthy
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(4), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040329 - 23 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2713
Abstract
Primary school teachers play a significant role in the support of children with mental health and developmental concerns, which can be comorbid or share similar symptomology. The literature suggests there is a deficiency in teacher mental health literacy (MHL), indicating that teachers often [...] Read more.
Primary school teachers play a significant role in the support of children with mental health and developmental concerns, which can be comorbid or share similar symptomology. The literature suggests there is a deficiency in teacher mental health literacy (MHL), indicating that teachers often lack the knowledge and confidence to support childhood mental health. This study evaluated the success of the Mental Health Literacy for Educators Training Program for a subset of Queensland (QLD) primary school teachers, with a focus on the developmental areas of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Speech and Language Disorders, and Sensory Processing Disorders. The aim was to evaluate whether knowledge and confidence improved on training completion and to evaluate the satisfaction of the training. This research used a longitudinal design (pre- and post-training) with a sample of 81 QLD primary school teaching staff over a three-year period (2013–2015). The results showed that knowledge and confidence improved on training completion and were strongly correlated. The satisfaction with training was high and positively correlated with knowledge acquisition and confidence attainment. In respect of complex effects, a moderated mediation model showed that confidence mediated the relationship between satisfaction and knowledge, and years of teaching experience as a moderator had no effect directly on confidence or in producing a conditional indirect effect on knowledge. This study considers limitations such as ceiling effects, participant and self-selection biases, and sample representation, which limits the interpretation of the findings. At last, it also recommends additional longitudinal follow-up periods to assess knowledge maintenance, teacher helping behaviours, and benefits to children as key directions for future research. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

16 pages, 767 KiB  
Review
Navigating Self-Reflection for Aspiring Special Education Teachers: A Scoping Review on Inclusive Educational Practices and Their Insights for Autism Education
by Kamilla Klefbeck
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(12), 1182; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13121182 - 24 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1619
Abstract
This scoping review investigates the pivotal role of self-reflection in enhancing the skills of prospective educators, with the intention of drawing conclusions on how this aspect can contribute to improved teaching for students with autism. Two guiding research questions include: (1) How do [...] Read more.
This scoping review investigates the pivotal role of self-reflection in enhancing the skills of prospective educators, with the intention of drawing conclusions on how this aspect can contribute to improved teaching for students with autism. Two guiding research questions include: (1) How do targeted strategies in teacher education influence self-reflection among prospective special education teachers, and to what extent do these strategies enhance their reflective capacity, as indicated by the reviewed studies? (2) What research gaps exist regarding integrating reflective practice into teacher education programs to enhance prospective special education teachers’ self-reflection and professionalism? Finally, conclusions drawn from the results are analyzed through the framework of core aspects defined in the ICD-11, the eleventh edition of the ‘International Classification of Diseases’. This approach provides insight into how the conclusions can be applied to nurture self-reflection of future special education teachers, particularly emphasizing the facilitation of participation and learning for students with autism. Utilizing a scoping review methodology, the study comprehensively explores this vital area, adapting search strategies as needed. Several of the included studies suggested that to effectively contribute to the development of well-considered action strategies in encounters with students in a special education context, including autism education, it is not enough to incorporate reflective practice; the teacher candidates also need feedback and guidance. In conclusion, this research underscores self-reflection’s pivotal role in bridging theory and practice, enhancing the preparation of future educators for their work with diverse student populations. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop