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Parental Perspectives on Inclusion: Effects of Autism and Down Syndrome


This study examined the effects of the child's diagnosis (autism vs. Down syndrome), age, and current educational placement on parental perceptions toward inclusion for their child with disabilities. Parents of children with autism and with Down syndrome completed surveys regarding their opinions on their child's current educational placement, their desire for changing the current placement, and their views on inclusive education. Results indicated that diagnosis, age, and current placement influenced parental opinion on the ideal educational placement for their child. Parents of children with Down syndrome were significantly more likely to endorse inclusion (full-time placement in general education) as the ideal educational program for their child whereas parents of children with autism were more likely to endorse mainstreaming (consistent part-time placement with general education students). Parents of younger children and parents whose children were already placed in general education programs were more positive towards inclusion than parents of older children or students currently in special education. Findings are discussed in terms of child characteristics and prevailing educational practices.

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