Date of Award



© 2017 Corleigh Donati

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Steven Moskowitz

Second Advisor

Tarae Waddell-Terry

Third Advisor

Nathalie Saltikoff


This qualitative research study examines, explores, and describes teachers' perceptions towards high functioning autistic (ASD) students and its impact on the student's learning environment in suburban elementary school inclusion classrooms. Significant themes and subthemes emerged while analyzing the data. The emergent themes categorized were 1) enriching experiences, 2) classroom challenges, 3) preparedness and knowledge, 4) accommodations, and 5) needed supports. Based on the data I concluded that teachers perceived students with ASD to positively impact the learning environment their classroom. Participants reported that ASD students are challenging to work with due to their disruptive behaviors and lower level of functioning, which impacts the student’s academic capabilities. Shifts in teaching strategies and lesson plans were reported in order to best address the student’s ASD diagnosis. Participants also reported a lack of training and feeling underprepared on how to best meet the academic and social needs of ASD students. Recommendation for school systems and educators based on the findings are for schools districts to ensure the proper training programs for teachers surround ASD; implement better systems for utilizing a team approach when working with ASD students; and implement policy change surrounding teacher schedules when teaching a class with an ASD student in it.


Ed.D. Dissertation