The Future of Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Autism: Considerations for the Future Education of Children with Autism in Mainstream Schools: Experiences from Research in Ireland.

Emer Ring, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick (Ireland)


The quality agenda remains at the heart of global education discourse [1]. The future inclusion of children with autism in mainstream education is dependant on the ability of schools to provide quality education provision for both children with autism and children who do not have autism in the same classroom. In this paper, a theoretical framework for autism is linked to implications for school systems and teachers’ practice in the classroom in providing quality education experiences for children with autism and their peers who do not have autism. This paper is based on research conducted by the author in ten schools in Ireland with forty-two children with autism, aged from three years and nine months to sixteen years and eight months with a range of additional needs ranging from mild to severe to profound general learning disabilities, language delay and challenging behaviour. Reference will also be made during the presentation to an extensive national evaluation of education provision for children with autism recently conducted by the author and a team of researchers in Ireland, entitled An Evaluation of Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Ireland [2]. Data from twenty individual semi-structured interviews with school principals and teachers of children with ASD, ten focus-group interviews with other teachers in the school, photographic classroom data and video-data comprising periods of classroom observation of twenty-six to fifty-four minutes were collected. Individual children's on-task behaviour was determined from the video data through a two-minute time-sampling process. Analysis of the data suggests that children's on-taks behaviour is optimised when the following factors are a feature of practice: the physical layout, organisation and environmental stimuli of the classroom are addressed; teaching approaches and strategies consider the visual learning style of children with autism; a range of teaching approaches and strategies is used; the sensory and perceptual differences of children with ASD are accommodated and special needs assistant support is effectively managed. The presentation will be interactive and include direct excerpts from the extensive data collected; video clips and photographs.



 [1]       Organisation for Economic Development and Co-Operation (OECD): Education at a Glance (2012), Paris: OECD.

[2]        Daly, P., Ring, E., Egan, M., Fitzgerald, J., Griffin, C., Long, S., McCarthy, E., Moloney, M., O’Brien, T., O’Byrne, A., O’Sullivan, S., Ryan, M. And Wall, E. (2015) An Evaluation of Education Provision for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in the Republic of Ireland, Trim: National Council for Special Education, in-press.

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