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Knowledge About Autism Paper - Kent State sljackso/documents/Knowledge... · PDF fileAutism 3 Knowledge about Autism Questionnaire Autism, also referred to as Autistic Disorder, falls

Apr 24, 2018

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  • Autism 1

    RUNNING HEAD: Autism

    Knowledge about Autism Questionnaire

    Sarah Jackson

    Kent State University

  • Autism 2

    Abstract

    This study was conducted to verify the assessment tool Knowledge about Autism

    Questionnaire. This instrument is intended to be used with educators and related services

    providers to examine the extent the individuals base their educational practice on commonly held

    beliefs and misconceptions or evidence based strategies. The study included participants in the

    area of speech pathology, special education, general education, and school psychology. The

    study found that this Knowledge about Autism Questionnaire was a reliable instrument, but due

    to the limitations of the study further research is needed to accept the reliability of this tool.

  • Autism 3

    Knowledge about Autism Questionnaire

    Autism, also referred to as Autistic Disorder, falls under the pervasive developmental

    disabilities label. In 1911, Eugen Bleuler pioneered the term autism through his work with

    individuals with schizophrenia who exhibited some of the characteristics that are now associated

    with autism (Mash & Barkley, 1996). Impairments in the social and communication areas of

    development with the presence of repetitive behavior are the key features of this diagnosis

    (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Mash and Barkely, 1996). The extent to which an

    individual with autism is delayed in theses areas varies greatly (Mash and Barkley, 1996). No

    matter what the extent the areas of communication and social development are affected, these

    characteristics of autism must be present before the age of three for a child to be able receive this

    diagnosis (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). With the recent increase in the diagnosis of

    autism (Center for Disease Control, 2005), many more children with this diagnosis are being

    educated in public schools.

    It is uncertain what the reasons are for the recent increase in the identification of children

    with autism. Some believe that the increase is due to better assessment tools, while others claim

    lack of specific and consistent diagnostic tools (Center for Disease Control, 2005; Sigel, Pilner,

    Eschler, & Elliot, 1988). There are others who contribute the increase to early identification of

    children being diagnosed with autism and the recent initiative by mass media to raise public

    awareness about the issue have contributed to the increase in diagnosis (Center for Disease

    Control, 2005; Siegel, 2003). However, what is known is the fact that more children with autism

    are being educated in public schools. These students are being educated in a variety of

  • Autism 4

    educational settings, ranging from full inclusion to self-contained units. For this reason, there is a

    great need for educators, focusing on work in the area of special education as well as general

    education, to create educational programming based on scientifically proven methods, rather

    then commonly held beliefs and misconceptions. This can only be done when educators hold

    extensive knowledge about children with autism to make informed decisions about all aspects of

    the educational system that will affect these students.

    Surrounding the word autism is many common misconceptions about diagnosis,

    symptoms, and treatment options that have been found to be effective in addressing the

    characteristics of autism. Many times there are discrepancies between what public opinion

    advocates and what research has found to be true in these element associated with autism

    (National Research Council, 2001). With this contradicting information available, the

    programming decisions that educators and related service providers make can greatly affect the

    educational opportunities available for these students. Lack of accurate information about autism

    may lead to ineffective practice. Educators and related service providers may not know that there

    is more then one approach that has been found effective in educating children with autism and

    may not take the effort to find this information. If information about evidence based strategies

    was made available to these individuals, effective programming would be made more available

    for children with autism.

    Many educator preparation programs fail to emphasize research based practices used in

    educating children with autism and instead spend more time discussing and promoting the study

    of theory based practice (Lerman, 2004; Polsgrove, 2003). In many general education teacher

    preparation programs, autism is not discussed throughout the entire course of study. This is an

    area of concern with the increasing number of children being educated in inclusive settings

  • Autism 5

    (National Research Council, 2001). With lack of instruction in evidence based strategies, many

    educators use instructional methods and strategies in their classroom that do not have any

    support to their effectiveness (Lerman, 2004). Educators lack of knowledge about these

    evidence based strategies as well as their belief in many commonly held misconceptions about

    diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment used with children with autism can greatly interfere with the

    development of instructional programming and educational opportunities provided to students

    with autism.

    This study was conducted to evaluate the reliability of the Knowledge about Autism

    Questionnaire. This tool can be used to assess the knowledge base about autism that educators

    and related services have in this topic area. There is a need to have an understanding of how the

    individuals working with children with autism view diagnosis, symptoms and treatment for these

    students. This information could lead to a better understanding of why educators and related

    service providers make certain programming decisions as well as provide information about how

    college degree programs are preparing individuals in the field of education to work with children

    with autism. Through this study, it is believed that the Knowledge about Autism Questionnaire

    will be found to be a reliable tool in examining the beliefs about autism that educators and

    service providers possess.

    Methods

    Participants

    Fifty-nine educators and related service providers participated in this study. Of the total

    participants, 4 were male and 55 were female. Three of the questionnaires completed by the

    participants had to be removed from the study due to incomplete questionnaires. Overall, 94.9%

    of the participants completed the questionnaire. Sixteen percent of the participants were currently

  • Autism 6

    teaching, 5 participants were in general education classrooms and 4 were special education

    teachers. A total of 28.6% of the participants were currently teaching and enrolled in advanced

    degree programs at Kent State University; of these participants currently teaching and in

    advanced degree programs, 12 of the participants were working in a special education setting and

    4 were working in general education settings. A total of 30.4% of the total participants were

    currently only enrolled in advanced degree programs; 15 of these participants were enrolled in

    programs with a focus on special education and 2 of these participants were enrolled in programs

    focusing on preparing individuals to teach in general educational settings. Twenty-three percent

    of the total participants were related service providers or enrolled in advance degree programs

    related to the areas of speech pathology or school psychology; 2 participants were currently

    practicing speech pathologist and enrolled in advanced degree programs, 4 participants were

    only working as speech pathologists, and 7 participants were enrolled in an advanced degree

    program focusing on preparing individuals to work as school psychologists. These individuals

    working in a school setting were located in school districts from the areas of Cleveland, Akron,

    and Canton and are working with students in grades preschool through eighth grade. All of the

    individuals who participated in the study had previous exposure to information about autism

    before taking the questionnaire (See Table 1). Seventy-five percent of the participants have

    instructed a child with autism in a school setting and 53.6% of the participants knew someone

    outside of the school setting with autism.

    The Knowledge about Autism Questionnaire was developed using support from a variety

    of sources (Table 2). This questionnaire was developed to assess to what extent educators and

    related service providers believe the misconceptions associated with diagnosis, symptoms, and

    treatment options available for children with autism. This tool is intended to be used with general

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    education teachers, special education teachers, school psychologists, and speech pathologists.

    This instrument can also be used to assess what extent that individuals in advanced degree

    programs in these areas also adhere to these myths and misconceptions about autism.

    A true-false-dont know format was chosen to gain a true assessment of what educators

    and related service providers believe and the knowledge that they possess on the topic of autism.

    A dont know answer was included as an answer choice