Term of Award

Summer 2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Grigory Dmitriyev

Committee Member 1

Luann Purcell

Committee Member 2

Kent Rittschof

Abstract

Author's abstract: This qualitative study explored the perspectives of special education administrators employed in three school districts in Georgia regarding the empowerment of students with autism spectrum disorders. Participants were first given a screening survey and later interviewed via telephone in reference to empowering practices present in their individual districts. Participants were given the options to be included in the telephone survey. This study draws on the research from the National Research Council's findings published in as Educating Children with Autism (2001) and other leaders in the field of educational interventions. This study provides an analysis of their responses and recommendations for districts to increase the empowerment of students with autism. The results of this study are based on both the survey and interview questions. Responses indicate that administrators consistently agree that teachers and staff who support students with autism need more specialized and intense training than other special education teachers. Participant also agreed that students on the autism spectrum need specialized social skills instruction. Another recommendation from the study is that students with autism need an increased level of support to increase in their ability to function in their environment. There was a single administrator who consistently reported a lack of support for students in her district. It was obvious to the researcher that this administrator was, nonetheless aware of their need; however, she lacked the ability to implement practices she felt would provide benefits to the students. The findings of this study show that in order to empower students with autism districts should invest in training opportunities for both staff and students, incorporate a social skills instruction program, and support their ability to function in their environment. These recommendations may require additional staff, additional planning time, and/or additional financial resources for full implementation. These conclusions as well as others are presented, along with implications for future research in the area of empowerment of students with autism.

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