BioScience Trends. 2022;16(2):142-150. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2022.01104)
Inclusive education of elementary students with autism spectrum disorders in Shanghai, China: From the teachers' perspective
Li MY, Lin YJ, Bao TT, Zhao QH, Wang YL, Li MJ, Chen Y, Qian YL, Chen L, Zhu DQ
Given an increasing number of children with ASD, the need for inclusive education has rapidly increased in China. Since 2011, children with ASD have been eligible for inclusive education. However, little is known of the implementation process by key personnel. The purpose of the current study was to qualitatively explore elementary school teachers' experiences and perspectives on an inclusive education policy and practice for students with ASD. Participants were from 5 elementary schools in 2 districts in Shanghai. This study consisted of data collection in 2 phases. First, semistructured, in-depth interviews were conducted with school psychologists and vice principals responsible for students' mental health for implementation of general inclusive education at each school. Second, focus groups of frontline teachers were assembled to hear their firsthand experiences. A thematic analysis was performed. Findings indicated that although all 5 schools had some ASDrelated support, training and resources varied depending on whether learning in regular classrooms (LRC) was implemented. Frontline teachers in particular faced challenges implementing LRC, including the limited extent of LRC, tedious implementation procedures, and parents' misconceptions of LRC. Regardless of these challenges, frontline teachers tried to support students with ASD as much as they could. The current findings should help to advance the inclusive education policy in Shanghai, including increasing the availability of inclusive education resources and training for teachers, issuing specific LRC guidance, and reducing ASD-related stigma. This study is among the first to explore the implementation of inclusive education in urban China.