Preliminary Results of the Australian Autism Educational Needs Analysis

Researchers are currently analysing data from the Autism CRC Australian Autism Educational Needs Analysis. Nationwide 1,468 respondents participated in the survey from every state of Australia and included: 

·         248 educators,

·         179 specialists,

·         107 students with autism (11 -18 years), and

·         934 parents

The Australian Autism Educational Needs Analysis project aimed to produce the first Australian-wide needs analysis of students with autism (aged 5-18 years) and their educational needs. The needs analysis collected information from some key stakeholder groups:

·         Educators

·         Specialists

·         Parents

·         Students on the autism spectrum

Using a mixed methods approach, the needs analysis used an Australian-wide survey to obtain information from the four key stakeholder groups regarding the range of educational needs they identify students with autism (5-18 years) as having within school settings. A specific focus of the analysis was to identify the more specific educational supports students with autism with high impact social, emotional, behavioural and complex needs may present with. The survey was followed up with the collection of more in depth qualitative data from interviews with participants from the four key stakeholder groups. The aim of the survey was for key participants to identify, from their perspective, the educational needs of students with autism (5-18 years) within school settings.

Students on the autism spectrum present unique challenges to school systems. An inclusive approach to education requires teachers to address these challenges and to support the unique needs of students with autism (Batten, 2005, Lynch & Irvine, 2009). Challenging and complex behaviours are more frequent in children with autism and without appropriate intervention these behaviours tend to persist across an individual’s lifespan (Murphy et al., 2005). As a result, one of the biggest challenges faced by educators is ensuring that the high impact social, emotional and behavioural needs some students with Autism experience can be successfully met within educational contexts (Koegel et al., 2012).

The Needs Analysis allows us to:

  • Gain a comprehensive profile of the educational support needs of students with autism
  • Identify the needs of educators, allied health professionals and parents in effectively supporting the educational needs and school connectedness of students with autism
  • Describe the goals identified by parents, students, educators and allied health professionals that form the basis of intervention and support of students with autism within educational settings
  • To identify and provide for the professional learning needs of educators, allied health professionals and  parents in supporting the educational needs of students with autism
  • Develop resources, professional development and publications which will better support the needs of key stakeholders involved in supporting the educational needs of students with autism.
  • Inform future educational research

Preliminary findings suggest the following outcomes:

When asked what were the needs of students with autism that had the most the most impact and needed the highest level of support in schools the following preliminary results have been collected from educators, specialists and parents and show strong agreement across all stakeholder groups in relation to the top four needs of students with autism within educational contexts. 

Needs of students with autism that have the most impact and require the highest level of support in schools

Top 4

Educators

Specialists

Parents

1

social emotional

social emotional

social emotional

2

behavioural

behavioural

behavioural

3

communication

communication

communication

4

sensory

sensory 

sensory

The top four barriers identified by educators, specialist and parents to supporting students with autism with complex and challenging needs are outlined below:

Top four barriers Identified to Supporting Students with Autism in Schools

Top 4

Educators

Specialists

Parents

1

Inadequate funding to support the student’s needs

Inadequate funding to support the student’s needs

Inadequate funding to support the student’s needs

2

Lack of suitable education and training for staff

Lack of time

Lack of suitable education and training for staff

3

Lack of specialist support available from external organisations and specialists

Lack of suitable education and training for staff

Lack of time

4

Lack of time

Lack of specialist support available from external organisations and specialists

Lack of specialist support available from external organisations and specialists

 

According to the students with autism the following tasks were rated as difficult to cope with in school settings. 

 

Top 10

Top 10 Tasks Rated as Most Difficult to Cope with by Students with Autism

1

Planning for assignments

2

Working as part of a group

3

Handwriting – being neat

4

Coping with change (e.g., changes in teachers, or the timetable)

5

Coping with bullying/ or teasing

6

Handwriting - being quick enough to keep up

7

Copying information from the board

8

Doing homework

9

Staying calm when other kids annoy me

10

Staying calm when the classroom is very noisy

 

The students with autism rated a range of support options to help them at school. Some of the top rating supports included:

·         being able to use technology,

·         help to organise themselves,

·         using special interests for project work,

·         1-1 support from adults, being rewarded for jobs well done, 

·         getting a copy of things,

·         taking a break

·         time away and

·         reminders of pending change. 


from http://www.autismcrc.com.au/news/prelimi...