There are a number of barriers to providing better and appropriate support to meet the educational needs of students with autism.
These include: funding, lack of knowledge and training, lack of specialist support staff and time, lack of appropriate resourcing and class sizes.
Funding can impact on the amount of resourcing, support and specialist staff available to teachers to help individualise their approach. Funding and resources vary from state to state and school to school.
Teacher training and experience in autism will vary.
In the Australian Autism Educational Needs Analysis, the majority of teachers (89%) and specialists (97.5%) who participated had received professional learning or specific training related to students on the autism spectrum.
Teachers and specialists working in the field need to feel adequately supported to meet the needs of these students, and this support must be ongoing.
The use of flexible and individually tailored educational approaches is crucial. This requires that teachers have an array of adjustments and resource options which can be implemented both in and outside of the classroom environment.
Input from a multidisciplinary team that includes educational specialists and allied health professionals should also be available.
It is not enough to give teachers professional development on autism. They need additional help from appropriate specialist staff to put adjustments in place that fit within the context of their classroom and school.