Note: Most Internet Explorer 8 users encounter issues playing the presentation videos. Please update your browser or use a different one if available.

Special Education Teachers' Views about Social Skills Instruction of Elementary Children in the Autistic Spectrum

Friday, 3 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
C. Papoutsi1 and S. Mavropoulou2, (1)Department of Special Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece, (2)Argonafton & Filellinon, Department of Special Education, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece
Background: Research on teachers’ views and practices about social skills instruction for persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) remains surpisingly scarce (Uysal & Ergenekon, 2010). However, further examination is needed given the fact that teaching social skills and social understanding remains one of the major life challenges and key curriculum areas for the education of students with ASD. 

Objectives:  The aim of this study was to explore special education teachers’ views on several aspects of social skill instruction for their students with ASD, such as instructional priorities, teaching methods and contexts, frequency of sessions, type of activities, teaching materials as well as perceived teaching efficacy in this area. 


Participants: Ninety five (n=95) special education teachers (Mage=34.03 yrs) from public special schools in 18 different cities in Greece volunteered to participate in this study. Their average teaching experience with students with ASD was 36.51 months.

Measures. Given the lack of an appropriate measure for the above research objective, an extensive questionnaire (with a 6 or 7-point Likert-type response scale) was developed and piloted for the purposes of this study. 

Results:  The quantitative analysis of special education teachers’ responses revealed several interesting findings. Educators assigned top priority to the instruction of social skills as compared to teaching academic skills. Interestingly, teachers stated that their decision making for social skills instruction was heavily based on students’ individual characteristics and their own evaluations rather than parental expectations and evaluations from colleagues. In addition, teachers indicated that social skills instruction was associated with the amount of available instructional time rather than specially assigned time in the daily program, and was more often based on behavioral practices, teacher-centered approaches and visual supports as compared to experiential practices. Also teachers appeared to teach social skills more often in the classroom/playground rather than in the community. Special education teachers seemed to be active in developing individualized tasks with three dimensional objects following specialized curricula for students with ASD. Lastly, teachers appeared to associate their perceived teaching efficacy with their continuing education and collaboration with colleagues within the same school, rather than with their support from other administrators (i.e. head of school, Special Needs Advisor) or professionals from diagnostic/evaluation teams. 

Conclusions:  This study aims to contribute to the better understanding of special education teachers’ views for social skills instruction for students with ASD and its findings are discussed in the context of improving support to teachers in this instructional domain, so that they can better serve the needs of their students in special education.

| More