Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Education: Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Bonnie Keilty

Second Advisor

Dr. Jamie Bleiweiss

Third Advisor

Dr. Lauren Schnell

Academic Program Adviser

Dr. Marshall George


Though there are a number of practices identified by researchers and other professionals as inclusive, the question remains about whether the students themselves truly feel included. There has been limited research surrounding specific experiences in inclusive classrooms that students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) perceive to be facilitators and barriers to being included in general education and co-teaching settings. The purpose of this study was to inform educational policies and school practices surrounding the inclusion of students with ASD in general education and co-teaching settings by analyzing the perceptions of students with ASD and their parents to determine what it means to be truly included as well as the facilitators and barriers to inclusion. Students’ and parents’ perceptions of what it means to be included relates to the students’ sense of belonging, which influences academic and psychological outcomes (Allen & Kern, 2017; Anderman, 2002). Qualitative methodologies, including semi-structured interviews, were used to carry out this research because they give the opportunity to deeply examine social experiences through multiple lenses, adding nuance and complexity to the body of knowledge around those experiences (Luttrell, 2010). The findings suggest specific practices that school personnel could adopt in order to promote the true inclusion and sense of belonging among students with ASD in high school, including building relationships with students, facilitating peer relationships to support the development of friendships, and providing explicit executive functioning support.



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