Special education teachers serving students with autism: A descriptive study of the characteristics and self-reported knowledge and practices employed

by Hendricks, D.R.

Autism now affects a significant number of students in schools. The purpose of this study was to survey special education teachers who serve students with autism to 1) determine teacher, environmental, and student related characteristics; 2) identify the self-reported knowledge of effective teaching practices; and 3) identify the self-reported implementation of effective teaching practices. The study was conducted with special education teachers employed in Virginia using a web-based survey titled the Needs Assessment of Special Educators who Serve Students with Autism. Respondents included 498 special education teachers with a wide array of qualifications and experience including licensure status, years of teaching and area of endorsement. Results provide a description of teacher characteristics that directly impact instructional delivery as well as information regarding self-rated knowledge and implementation of efficacious strategies. Information from this study can be used to improve service delivery to students with autism by informing policy and directing and enhancing teacher professional development initiatives at the preservice and inservice levels.