Investigating Thai Teachers Attitudes Toward Students with Autism

Cathy Little, Kanokporn Vibulpatanavong, David Evans



Greater numbers of students with Autism are being educated in mainstream settings, enrolled in regular classes, placed with ‘regular’ students, and with teachers who often have limited experience or knowledge about their specific disability. Teachers, with limited knowledge of disability, struggle to successfully include these students into their classes. However, a powerful predictor of successful inclusion of students with a disability into mainstream classrooms is the attitude of the general education teacher (Ainscow, 2007).

A plethora of research abounds to empirically support what is known about quality teaching practice for students with Autism, yet this same research highlights teachers concerns of lack of knowledge, lack of support systems and overriding legislative policy as primary obstacles to the inclusion process. Research suggests that teachers of students with Autism have limited knowledge about the specific traits and idiosyncrasies that define these students learning styles and behaviours.

This research investigated the attitudes of Thai teachers toward their students with Autism. Attitudes were defined by four constructs: attitude toward inclusion, teacher effectiveness, academic climate, and social inclusion. A key premise of this research was that positive teacher attitude was strongly related to more successful

outcomes for students.

This research utilised a mixed methods design over two phases, using both survey data and qualitative case studies. The following paper reports only on phase one of the research, the responses to the Teacher Attitudes Survey. Participants of the study were 404 teachers from seven schools in Bangkok. Results showed an ongoing need to assist teachers in building their confidence and knowledge in catering for students with Autism in the regular classroom. Teacher confidence (effectiveness) in meeting the education needs of students with Autism was reported as limited, yet teachers reported their understanding about the social inclusion of students with Autism in the regular school setting to be positive.

Keywords : Attitudes, Autism, Education, Inclusion, Social Inclusion

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