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(Ireland) Mainstream teachers lack autism training/support in dealing with students

Sept 1, 2021, Irish Examiner: Lack of training for teachers of pupils with autism, study finds

The majority of teachers received little initial teacher education (ITE) training in autism, almost no continuous professional development (CPD) before educating a child with autism, and received little professional support, according to new research. The study, entitled Teacher Characteristics, Knowledge and Use of Evidence Based Practices in Autism Education in Ireland, was carried out by researchers at the Department of Psychology at the University of Limerick and the School of Psychology at NUI Galway. Its findings are based on the views of 369 mainstream primary school teachers from all 26 counties, including 207 general educators, 62 special educators, 18 learning support teachers, 28 dual principal-teachers, and 43 autism class teachers…. "Teachers who had 12–15 years of experience with students with autism had the highest knowledge and use of EBPs, and teachers who had the most (21+years) and least (less than 3 years) experience had similar low levels of knowledge and use," it said. Continuous professional development CPD was cited as another factor, with teachers who received this before teaching children with autism, and those who had received additional CPD, having higher levels of EBP knowledge and use in comparison with those who had not received training. Likewise, those who had received the most amount of hours of ITE training and CPD training were most knowledgeable and used EBPs more frequently, while those who had access to support professionals more than seven times per year had the highest levels of knowledge and used EBPs most frequently…. "Overall, it would appear that teachers in our study received little training in their ITE, and have differential access to CPD. Access to additional CPD in particular was identified as significant in the use of EBPs, and as many GE teachers will now have a child with autism included in their classroom, access to timely appropriate CPD is imperative for these teachers. Support from allied professionals is also central to teachers feeling supported and confident in using autism EBPs. "Based on our findings teachers would also benefit from receiving mentoring or training from special education teachers."


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