To create an inclusive classroom and act accordingly, teachers’ understanding of the experiences of participation of students with autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) is crucial. This understanding may depend on the teachers’ professional experiences, support and personal interests. The aim of the present questionnaire study was to investigate how well the teachers’ ratings of their students with ASCs’ perception of participation matched with the students’ own ratings. Furthermore, possible correlations between the accuracy of teachers’ ratings and the teachers’ self-reported professional experience, support (including support-staff), and personal interest were investigated. Teachers’ ratings were also used to examine how their understandings correlated with classroom actions. The agreements between teachers’ and students’ ratings were moderate to high, and the ability to attune to the students’ perception of participation was not affected by the presence of a support-staff. The teachers’ personal interest in teaching students with ASC correlated with their accuracy, suggesting that this is a factor to consider when planning for successful placements in mainstream schools. Teachers’ understandings of the students with ASCs’ perception of being bullied or unpopular correlated with implementation of activities to improve the attitudes of classmates, but not with actions to enhance social relations for the students with ASC. 1. Introduction Since the Salamanca declaration , taking its stand from the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, inclusive schools have been the goal for many countries’ school policies. If students with impairments are included in a mainstream school, they are afforded an opportunity to participate in activities and social interaction . However, simply being in a mainstream school environment is not enough for participation to occur. Both environmental aspects, for example, attitudes of classmates and teachers, and personal characteristics of the student with impairment affect participation . Participation per se is, however, not mentioned in the Salamanca declaration but the term is used in The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities . Participation can be viewed as having two dimensions, namely, performing an activity and the perception of being involved in that activity. Actual, as well as perceived, availability and access to activities influence the performance dimension . The perceived meaningfulness of the
L. Eriksson and M. Granlund, “Conceptions of participation in students with disabilities and persons in their close environment,” Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 229–245, 2004.
L. Eriksson, Participation and disability- a study of participation in school for children and youth with disabilities, Ph.D. thesis, Department of Woman and Child Health Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Uni, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, 2006.
P. Arvidsson, M. Granlund, and M. Thyberg, “Factors related to self-fated participation in adolescents and adults with mild intellectual disability—a systematic literature review,” Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 277–291, 2008.
M. de Monchy, S. J. Pijl, and T. Zandberg, “Discrepancies in judging social inclusion and bullying of pupils with behaviour problems,” European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 317–330, 2004.
R. J. Simeonsson, D. Carlson, G. S. Huntington, J. S. McMillen, and J. L. Brent, “Students with disabilities: a national survey of participation in school activities,” Disability and Rehabilitation, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 49–63, 2001.
L. L. Hestenes and D. E. Carroll, “The play interactions of young children with and without disabilities: individual and environmental influences,” Early Childhood Research Quarterly, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 229–246, 2000.
L. C. Soodak, D. M. Podell, and L. R. Lehman, “Teacher, student, and school attributes as predictors of teachers' responses to inclusion,” Journal of Special Education, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 480–497, 1998.
L. Almqvist and M. Granlund, “Participation in school environment of children and youth with disabilities: a person-oriented approach,” Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 305–314, 2005.
M. F. Giangreco, S. W. Edelman, T. E. Luiselli, and S. Z. C. Macfarland, “Helping or hovering? Effects of instructional assistant proximity on students with disabilities,” Exceptional Children, vol. 64, no. 1, pp. 7–18, 1997.
K. Robertson, B. Chamberlain, and C. Kasari, “General education teachers' relationships with included students with autism,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 123–130, 2003.
M. Giangreco, et al., “‘Be Careful What You Wish for...’: five reasons to be concerned about the assignment of individual paraprofessionals,” Teaching Exceptional Children, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 28–34, 2005.
M. Guralnick, “Social competence with peers and early childhood inclusion. Need for alternative approaches,” in Early Childhood Inclusion, M. Guralnick, Ed., pp. 481–502, Paul Brookes, Baltimore, Md, USA, 2001.
M. M. Emam and P. Farrell, “Tensions experienced by teachers and their views of support for pupils with autism spectrum disorders in mainstream schools,” European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 407–422, 2009.
J. Ashburner, J. Ziviani, and S. Rodger, “Surviving in the mainstream: capacity of children with autism spectrum disorders to perform academically and regulate their emotions and behavior at school,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 18–27, 2010.
S. R. McConnell, “Interventions to facilitate social interaction for young children with autism: review of available research and recommendations for educational intervention and future research,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 351–372, 2002.
V. Buysse, B. D. Goldman, and M. L. Skinner, “Friendship formation in inclusive early childhood classrooms: what is the teacher's role?” Early Childhood Research Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 485–501, 2003.
A. J. M. Scheepstra, H. Nakken, and S. J. Pijl, “Contacts with classmates: the social position of pupils with Down's syndrome in Dutch mainstream education,” European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 212–220, 1999.
A. Luttropp and M. Granlun, “Interaction-it depends—a comparative study of interaction in preschools between children with intellectual disability and children with typical development,” Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 151–164, 2010.
L. Eriksson, J. Welander, and M. Granlund, “Participation in everyday school activities for children with and without disabilities,” Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, vol. 19, no. 5, pp. 485–502, 2007.
G. Janesl？tt, M. Granlund, A. Kottorp, and L. Almqvist, “Patterns of time processing ability in children with and without developmental disabilities,” Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 250–262, 2010.
P. Whitaker, “Provision for youngsters with autistic spectrum disorders in mainstream schools: what parents say—and what parents want,” British Journal of Special Education, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 170–178, 2007.