Objective: This article explores and discusses the level of training that general and special education teachers receive in pre-service and in-service trainings to prepare them in providing social skills instruction to students with autism spectrum disorders.
Method: These authors recruited certified teachers enrolled in degree programs at nine universities in the United State to participate in this study. These participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire regarding the level of direct and incidental social skills training instruction they received in pre-service and in-service trainings. The online questionnaire was based on the Teacher/Staff Skillstreaming Checklist. This questionnaire asked them to identify level, type (direct or incidental), area of social skills instruction that they received in their teacher preparation and in-service training, and who (special education teachers in self-contained or resource classrooms) received training.
Results: These results suggest that 42% of general education teachers and 26% of special education teachers did not receive any social skills instruction strategies in their teacher preparation program. Only 8% of general education teachers reported that they have received training in social skills instruction for students on the autism spectrum in their teacher training program.
During in-service trainings, 46% of general education and 46% of special education teachers reported that they received no social skills instruction in their in-service training. Ten percent (10%) of special education teachers report that they received social skills instruction within their in-service training.
The second question that was investigated was regarding the level of training special education and general education teachers received in their teacher preparation and in-service trainings. The data suggests that there is not a significant different in the level of training between special and general education teachers in this sample.
The third area that researchers focused on was the area of the social skills instruction teachers participated in. The results from this study suggest that teachers receive more instruction to help teacher students with ASD how to deal with stress and less time teaching skills that focus on development of friendship.
Lastly, this study also examined if teacher placement (self contained or resource room) lead to a specific level of social skills instruction. After data analysis it was suggested that there was no difference in the level of training that self contained or resource room teachers received.
Conclusion: The researchers in this study suggest that there should be state and federal mandates as well as division policies regarding social skills training for teachers who work with students on the autism spectrum. Also, further research should be conducted looking at the implementation of social skills instruction in the general and special education setting.