School of Education


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Fred Milacci


Autism Spectrum Disorder, General Education, Inclusion, Inclusion, Autism SpectruLeast Restrictive Environment, Special Education, Students with Disabilities


Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Elementary Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of elementary general education teachers instructing students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a suburban North Georgia inclusion setting. The four research questions that guided this study included (a) How do elementary general education teachers describe their experiences teaching students with ASD in their classrooms? (b) In what ways do teachers describe how the presence of students with ASD influence their beliefs regarding inclusion? (c) How do teachers describe the challenges they faced with students with ASD in the inclusion setting? and (d) How do teachers describe the benefits they faced with students with ASD in the inclusion setting. The theories guiding the study were Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) social ecological systems theory and Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory as each of these theories adopt the perspective that individuals are products of their environments, which affect the students with ASD and teachers in the inclusive setting. Data collection included 10 elementary general education teacher participants’ interviews and journals, my researcher journal, and an online focus group. I provided rich, descriptive characterizations of the phenomenon as I conducted the data analysis using coding, peer review, enriched description, and triangulation. Conclusively, the results of this study provided a voice for elementary general education teachers who instructed students with ASD I identified four themes from this study: (a) beliefs, (b) relationships, (c) challenges, and (d) benefits. Recommendations for future research include using diverse schools, increasing the number of participants, and researching the collaboration between general and special education teachers in the inclusion setting.