Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Myrna Olson


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand how general education teachers perceive their experiences working with students in their classrooms who have been diagnosed with autism. The study addressed the following research question: How do secondary school general educators perceive their experiences working with students in their classroom who have been diagnosed with autism?

Six secondary general education teachers were interviewed by the researcher, and the audio-recorded interviews were later transcribed by her. Initially, she analyzed the data to determine codes and categories. Next, she worked collaboratively with her doctoral advisor to discern themes and assertions.

Six themes emerged from data analysis. These secondary general educators (a) were unaware of the diagnoses of their students; (b) felt they needed more preparation for supporting the inclusion of students with autism; (c) gave thoughtful, truthful descriptions of the abilities of their students with autism; (d) had good experiences teaching students with autism; (e) saw and understood the impact of inclusion on the parties involved; and (f) formed an educational philosophy with regard to the inclusion of students with autism through their experience teaching students with autism.

General education teachers held predominantly positive attitudes with regard to teaching students with autism. They often were not knowledgeable with regard to information surrounding the diagnoses of their students, but were aware of how students with autism can benefit from being educated alongside their general education peers and how they add to the classroom community. If the general education teachers could improve one area of their experience teaching students with autism, it would be to have more preparation with regard to teaching and accommodating students with autism in their classrooms.

Keywords: General Educators, Autism, Inclusion, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Asperger's Disorder, Special Education