Curriculum Alignment for Bilingual Students with Autism and Teacher’s Perceptions about Professional Development to Support Inclusion



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Background: A review of the literature of preschool curriculum implemented with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) revealed a significantly restricted number of evidence-based protocols available for public school classrooms. Although the legal precedent for inclusion in early childhood was established decades ago, the variables of ASD and bilingualism among children participating in Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) classrooms have only recently started to be explored by researchers. The problem of practice for this study is the ability to structure fusion of curriculum, integration of students, and teacher capacity, for a successful English Learner (EL) with ASD to effectively participate in inclusion. Purpose: The purpose of curriculum mapping is to identify commonalities and gaps between PPCD and bilingual prekindergarten scope and sequence after alignment with the 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Moreover, the professional development opportunities and teacher survey served to gain an understanding of perceptions teachers receive to support inclusion of children with ASD. The research questions are (1) What is the extent of the challenge for a central city - suburban school district for students with ASD who are bilingual in PPCD? (2) How well does the scope and sequence of the PPCD curriculum align with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines in a bilingual classroom? (3) How are prekindergarten teachers prepared to work with students with ASD who are bilingual? (4) What do teachers report about the quality of the professional development they have attended? Method: This study utilized a descriptive, exploratory design combined with a quantitative survey research method. The investigator analyzed (a) the extent of the challenge for students with ASD within a school district, (b) the 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and the scope and sequence for PPCD and bilingual prekindergarten to formulate curriculum maps, (c) the prekindergarten teacher professional development opportunities, and (d) the survey responses regarding perception of knowledge on inclusive topics for socialization and communication skills. The participants of the survey were 66 regular and bilingual prekindergarten teachers in a central city – suburban school district. Survey results were analyzed using Pearson chi-square and independent t tests. Results: The results of this study confirmed that within this central city – suburban school district, students entering public school systems who are labeled with ASD are steadily on the rise. Trends could not be determined for ELs with ASD within this particular school district. Evidence-based techniques for effective instructional practices must be added to professional development opportunities to support the rise of ELs with ASD. Teacher capacity appeared the highest with social development, when compared to communication and pedagogy. Conclusion: School districts across the US must shift paradigms and concretely train educators to support the academic, social, and communication needs of children with ASD within inclusion. Converging literature supports the maintenance of the home language among bilinguals with ASD; therefore, educational systems need to rise to the challenge of maintaining cultural and linguistic sensitivity equally for all students including those with disabilities.



Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Curriculum alignment, Bilingualism, Inclusion, Teacher perceptions, Professional development