Date Presented 04/20/2023

This OT-led course was developed for general education teachers to provide them with classroom strategies for educating students with high-functioning autism. Outcomes indicated improved self-efficacy after engagement in the course.

Primary Author and Speaker: Robin Medina

Additional Authors and Speakers: Rae Ann Smith, Julie L. Watson

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability with a prevalence of 1 in 44 children (CDC, 2021). Social skills, communication, and restrictive interests are challenges for children with ASD. These children can often remain in a general education setting and be successful with accommodations and strategies in place; however, general education teachers are not required to have the same certification and training as special education teachers. Occupational therapists (OTs) are suited to address this training gap for teachers due to their education and experience providing school-based services to children with Individualized Education Programs (AOTA, 2021). The purpose of this course was to provide education on sensory processing, attention, social participation, structure, and transitions to general education teachers to increase their self-efficacy in implementing strategies with students with high-functioning autism (HFA) (Johnson et al, 2021). This course utilized several active learning styles: small group discussions, experiential learning, and interactive lecture. The Autism Self-Efficacy Scale for Teachers (ASSET) was used to measure teacher self-efficacy following participation in the professional development course (Ruble et al., 2013). The mean score on the ASSET pre-test was 3.63, and the standard deviation was 1.2. The mean score on the post-test was 5.02, with a standard deviation of 0.44. A paired t-test analysis of the ASSET results indicated a statistically significant p-value of 0.00001 (<0.05). A professional development course focusing on strategies for educating students with HFA can improve teacher self-efficacy in an inclusive classroom. This course contributed to the field of OT by demonstrating the impact of collaboration between teachers and OTs to increase academic and social engagement for students with HFA in a general education classroom.


American Occupational Therapy Association. (2021). OT in schools. clients/childrenandyouth/schools/schools.aspx (Links to an external site.)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 29). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). (Links to an external site.)

Johnson, A., Soares, L., & Gutierrez de Blume, A. (2021). Professional development for working with students with autism spectrum disorders and teacher self-efficacy. Georgia Educational Researcher, 18(1).

Ruble, L. A., Toland, M. D., Birdwhistell, J. L., McGrew, J. H., & Usher, E. L. (2013). Preliminary study of the Autism Self-Efficacy Scale for Teachers (ASSET). Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7(9), 1151–1159. (Links to an external site.)