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This chapter will summarise the main findings of the research project and draw conclusions from these findings. It will endeavour to provide direction for further studies and provide recommendations.
Due to changes in policies and legislation children with ASD are often educated in mainstream schools. However, as children with ASD have problems with communication and social interaction if their inclusion into mainstream education is to be successful they will often require support (Wing 1998; Jordan, et al 1998). It is considered essential that TA's who support a child with ASD in mainstream have some expertise and knowledge of ASD.
However, it has been recognised in a variety of previous studies that there are some problems associated with supporting children with ASD in mainstream education. This research project aimed to investigate whether TA's receive adequate support to implement the inclusion of children with ASD in Denbighshire Primary mainstream schools.
The results from the research suggests support for TA's working with a child with ASD in Denbighshire mainstream primary education is in need of some improvement. This factor was also recognised in the literature review. The research has highlighted a number of factors that have been found to be a problem in regards to the support that TA's receive when supporting a child with ASD in Denbighshire mainstream Primary schools.
Theses factors are:
Lack of training prior to starting to support a child with ASD
Inconsistent training for the TA's
Lack of support from outside agencies.
When children with ASD are being taught in mainstream schools they need to be taught in an environment that has an awareness of ASD and is receptive to their needs. This can be achieved by providing teachers and TA's with adequate, relevant training. Training is essential in areas such as: ASD awareness, the different teaching strategies and approaches, and managing challenging behaviour. Placing children with ASD in mainstream classrooms with TA's that have not received adequate training is placing a lot of pressure on the child, the TA and the teaching staff. While the TA may think the child is exhibiting problematic behaviour it may just be part of the characteristics of ASD, without prior training TA's will not understand this behaviour, therefore they may find it difficult to deal with the situation.
The lack of training on ASD for both teachers and TA's has been highlighted in lots of previous studies, from the data collected in this research project it is evident that this is still an ongoing problem for TA's. The author recommends that Denbighshire L.E.A addresses this problem as soon as possible.
Research can be undertaken to establish what training each of the TA's have received. Following this research a plan can be drawn up of all essential training needed for supporting a child with ASD and incorporated into the TA's Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
This will help to ensure that all children with ASD are getting the education and support they require to reach their potential. With training the TA will become more knowledgeable on the subject of ASD which will help them fulfil their role.
In addition, if the teachers receive training this will also impact on the child's education, as they too will have a greater understanding of ASD and will be able to provide more support for the TA. Similarly, training on the approach that is being used with the child is essential if it is going to be delivered effectively.
Another area that has been identified in the research is the lack of support from outside agencies. In particular the author is concerned with the lack of support provided by Denbighshire's ASD Outreach Support Service, as this service is provided by the school the author is employed at, and hopes to become involved with.
The Outreach Support Service can 'provide advice on how to support, manage and teach pupils with ASD in mainstream schools' (ASD Outreach Service, 2010; 1). Specialist Autism schools can play a huge part in making inclusion successful for children with ASD. They can provide advice, and training on how to manage and teach children with ASD in mainstream (Barnard et al, 2002).The author recommends that research is undertaken by Denbighshire LEA to establish the reason why the service is not being accessed by some of the schools.
The findings of the research study have showed that the five aims of the research have been addressed effectively with the use of a quantitative method. However, research can always be developed, enhanced and improved (Bennett, 2003).
The author felt that if more participants were involved in the study the results would be more conclusive and valid, therefore providing the author with a bigger picture. By extending the study to a variety of primary schools across North Wales, the author would gain information about the level of support TA's receive when supporting a child with ASD in mainstream education in the other Counties. Results from each County could then be compared with each other. The author could then conclude whether the problem with training is restricted to only Denbighshire or is it a wider problem.
Given the time limit adopting the use of questionnaires to collect the data was felt by the author to be the best method, as it provided the views of many TA's. The questionnaires provided basic information of a satisfactory level. However, the author feels that if semi structured interviews had been used as the data collection method, then the TA's may have elaborated on each question. This would then provide additional information to aid the research.
From the findings of the research the author has made the following recommendations:
Investigate whether the lack of training of TA's impacts on the child's attainment.
Investigate whether teachers in Denbighshire receive adequate training on ASD.
Investigate whether inclusion of children with ASD is successful in Denbighshire.
The aim of this dissertation was to reveal whether TA's working with children with ASD in Denbighshire mainstream Primary education receive adequate support to implement the child's inclusion.
The investigation looked in depth at recent literature and through adopting the use of questionnaires, investigating the level of support and training provided for the TA's in Denbighshire the research aimed to bring a different viewpoint to that reached solely through the use of literature.
From the analysis of the questionnaires the author has concluded that TA's in Denbighshire do not receive adequate support to implement the inclusion of children with ASD. The data presented in this research has highlighted the need to provide continuous training for TA's and the need of input from other professional outside agencies, to help the TA's to fulfil their role.
Due to the changes in legislation there seems to be a continuous rise in the number of children with ASD accessing mainstream education. Therefore it is imperative that Denbighshire LEA look at the provision of support and training accessed by TA's who support these children in the education settings.