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Essential elements for inclusive education and best practice for autism

The 4 key principles that are common to both inclusion and best practice.
Chalk figures standing on globe

Lynch and Irvine (2009) reviewed the research literature and identified eight of the most widely published and cited educational intervention programmes in an attempt to determine whether there were common programmatic elements that could be extracted between inclusive education and best practice for autism education.

They identified 4 key principles that are common to both inclusion and best practice:

  1. Instructional practices. Both the inclusion and best practices models highlight the importance of instructional practices. Effective instructional practices include the curricula that is to be taught, the ways in which it may be adapted or modified to suit the individual student, strategies to assist in the generalisation of the curricula, and assessment strategies that focus on the student as his/her own measure of progress rather than making group comparisons.
  2. Student and staff supports. In addition, both models identify the importance of providing appropriate levels of support to students and staff. For students, this may involve providing predictable structure and routine, as well as, supporting students in overcoming challenging behaviours through environmental manipulations. For staff, support may involve additional preparation time, access to resources, and skill development through professional development workshops and information dissemination.
  3. Multi-disciplinary, multi-site collaboration. The third major element that that is identified in both models is collaboration. This includes cooperation between teachers, educational assistants, school personnel such as school psychologists, speech and language therapists, behavioural specialists, other community‐based professionals, and parents. This is especially pertinent during times of transition. For example, when children move from preschool to kindergarten, because of their knowledge and experiences with the transitioning child, the preschool staff serve as a valuable resources for educators in the kindergarten classroom.
  4. Family involvement. Lastly, family involvement was identified in both models as an integral component of children’s educational success. The involvement of parents and/or guardians in their children’s academic programmes promotes consistency across all environments and assists in the generalisation and maintenance of skills acquired at school. In many schools, there is a lack of ‘man (or woman) power’ that is identified as a barrier to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. However, with the increased participation of parents, this dilemma can be reduced. To ensure that parental participation is successful, information regarding best practices for all children (ie inclusive education) should be provided to them through information sessions at events such as parent teacher interviews, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meetings, weekly or monthly newsletters, or as an attachment to their children’s report cards. Research has shown that parents have a desire to become involved for their children’s education, and since parents offer the greatest expertise in their children, their knowledge is an asset to the educational team.

As a handy mnemonic ‘ISCI’ (pronounced ‘eye-sy’) might help you remember the 4 key principles of Instruction; Support; Collaboration; Involvement.

In week 4, we will explore the AMUSE project that hosts a wide range of good practices for schools, freely available to all.

© University of Bath
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Good Practice in Autism Education

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