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Temperament type: bridges and barriers in the education of high-functioning students with ASD in mainstream schools
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posted on 22.02.2017by Holcombe, Wendy May
Rising prevalence rates and disproportionate outcomes place students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a cohort at risk within the education and schooling context. This is further complicated when these students are also high-functioning with the concomitant capacity for high level academic performance. This study examines the experiences and perspectives of 56 educators from a cross-section of roles within the public school system in Victoria, Australia, to identify how the temperament type of high-functioning students with ASD influences their experience of educational support and challenge. A case study framework was utilised for this project, which involved both an online survey and semi-structured interviews to gather data related to educator perceptions. Responses revealed the need for deeper understanding of individual students, beyond knowledge of ASD factors. Results point to temperament type as a stable source of information on core needs, student values, natural strengths and behavioural preferences. The Bridges and Barriers Model of Support, created from the data, itemises a broad range of challenges and supports within the developmental pathway from student strengths to educational success. It is recommended that educators utilise knowledge of temperament type as a means to understanding the experience of their students in order to maximise efficacy of support and optimise successful outcomes.