Teacher perspectives on the transition planning process into post-secondary education (PSE) for students with a diagnosis of autism in post-primary schools in Ireland
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Aims: This study explored teachers’ perspectives on transition planning (TP) into post-secondary education (PSE) for students with autism attending mainstream classes or an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) unit attached to mainstream secondary schools in the Munster region of Ireland. This study also explored the role of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) in the transition planning process. Method: Appreciative Inquiry (AI) was employed as a framework for this research to explore teacher perspectives on current school strengths around transition planning and to explore how these strengths might be built upon as well as the role of the IEP in transition planning. Teaching staff (n=10) completed semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed thematically. Results: Results indicated that the use of formal transition plans as part of the IEP planning process was not common practice in secondary schools. Results also indicated that staffing and time as well as IEPs which were student centred, tailored to individual needs, collaborative and regularly reviewed, were noted as resources required to reach the ideal TP scenario. The importance of formal planning and a collaborative approach inclusive of all stakeholders for TP (including the PSE institutions) was expressed. TP can also be supported by strengthening communication and links between PSE institutions and post-primary schools. Conclusions: Findings indicated that a range of informal and formal work is being carried out by teachers as a means of supporting transition planning in post-primary schools. TP into PSE for students with an ASD appears to be in its infancy. The employment of AI as a strengths-based model of inquiry which focused on positive individual and organisational attributes was an appropriate methodology for the current study. Further research in this area is warranted.
Autism spectrum disorder
Individual education plans