Dr. Lorna Barry – ASK- All Special Kids
Dr. Jennifer Holloway – ASK- All Special Kids Centre
Jennifer Mcmahon – University of Limerick
Teachers are responsible for providing effective education for children with autism, and a range of evidence-based practices (EBPs) have been linked to better outcomes. Teacher perspectives on the implementation of EBPs are essential in understanding why a research-to-practice gap in the field of autism education persists. This study examines mainstream teachers’ perspectives through one-to-one semi-structured interviews with 14 mainstream teachers in the South of Ireland. Thematic analysis [Braun and Clarke (2006). “Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology.” Qualitative Research in Psychology 3 (2): 77–101. doi:10.1191/1478088706qp063oa] was used to identify themes resulting from the data. Four main themes were identified, which highlighted teachers’ perspectives of their lack of preparedness to teach children with autism, how they source information to support autistic children, their perceptions of the educational culture, and factors that influence their likelihood to use EBPs. The findings suggest that an educational culture of autism EBP use is yet to be established, however, teacher collaboration could be utilised to increase teacher knowledge and capacity for implementing EBPs. Findings are discussed in relation to the existing literature on EBPs, and recommendations for overcoming the research-to-practice gap in Ireland and in the wider field of autism education are provided.