An article published in 2003, Inclusion of Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders in General Education Settings, by Richard Simpson and colleagues describes the Autism Spectrum Disorder Inclusion Collaboration Model which can help school teams facilitate successful inclusion of students with autism. The model has five key components:
- environmental and curricular modifications, general education classroom support and instructional methods
- attitudinal and social supports
- coordinated team commitment
- recurrent evaluation of inclusion procedures
- home-school collaboration
While each of these components is important for successful inclusive practices, and I encourage everyone to read the article for more information, I want to focus on the fourth component which involves a systematic evaluation process. It is not enough to simply place a student with autism in the general education classroom and hope for the best. Evaluating efficacy of inclusive practices is a complex process which “involves evaluating (1) the provision of appropriate supplemental aides and services, (2) the evidence of benefit from participation and education, (3) the evidence of appropriate facilitation of membership, and (4) the child’s demonstration of appropriate participation.”
There is a checklist included in this article that may help guide your efforts to include students in the general education classroom effectively. Teachers and parents alike will benefit from broadening their considerations related to inclusion to ensure there is a method to conducting on-going evaluation from which action plans can be developed for the IEP team to make sure experiences within the inclusive environment and maximized.