What Do We Need for Inclusion of Students with Autism to Succeed? Planning and Collaboration

January 1, 2018

Research for This Tool

Students with autism who are educated with their non-disabled peers sometimes face significant challenges, as do their teachers. If inclusion of students with autism is work for both students and educators, planning and collaboration are essential.

An article by Simpson, de Boer-Ott, and Smith-Myles (2003) suggests that educators address key issues when inclusion is appropriate for students with autism, including planning for

  • Social supports,
  • Instructional accommodations and differentiation,
  • Environmental supports,
  • Team work, and
  • Communication/collaboration with parents.

Here is the reference mentioned above:

Simpson, R.L., de Boer-Ott, S.R., & Smith-Myles, B. (2003). Inclusion of learners with autism spectrum disorders in general education settings. Topics in Language Disorders: 23, (2), 116-133.

How to Use This Tool

To help teams with planning before inclusion begins, we have developed a tool called, What Do We Need? This tool can be used by teams of special and general educators as well as administrators. We suggest using the tool as a guide, so that the team addresses all relevant issues.

While some students may not need support in each area included on the form, we have included a key area in the first section that we believe is often overlooked: Professional development. Before planning the specifics for students with autism, we suggest doing a quick survey to determine how much professional development have been provided to teachers, especially general education teachers. If the answer is, “not much,” districts should start with training. It is unrealistic to expect general educators, no matter how well meaning they are, to master inclusion strategies that no one has taught them.

The tool should be used collaboratively, so that everyone on the team leaves the planning session knowing who will do what, when they will do it, and what resources are needed. Starting with this tool should help your team and your students!


“What Do We Need? (.pdf)