Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Russell O. Mays

Committee Members

Russell F. West, Louise L. MacKay, Lori Marks


The purpose of this study was to survey special education teachers and speech therapists in eleven school districts in Northeast Tennessee regarding their knowledge level (etiology and educational programming) of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The primary focus of the study was to identify effective programs and methods used by special educators in this region, comparing them to the latest techniques and teaching methods prescribed by recent research. In addition, identified weaknesses were used to recommend future training and staff development to enable educators to provide the best possible programs for children with autism.

Five hundred fifty-two surveys were disseminated to special education teachers and speech therapists in eleven school districts in Northeast Tennessee. Two hundred ninety-two professionals responded to the survey, resulting in a return rate of 52.9%. Educators were asked to respond to a total of 44 questions (28 true/false items and 16 multiple choice items). The multiple choice items were designed to obtain demographic information, job related characteristics, preparation and experience teaching students with ASD, and professional needs of special educators in this region. The 16 multiple choice items were categorized into knowledge of ASD etiology and ASD educational programming.

The results of the study indicate that there were no marked deficits in special educators' knowledge levels (etiology and educational programming) of ASD. However, the scores on educational programming were consistently higher than scores on etiology. There is a need for further training because very few special educators have been trained in research based methods currently used with students diagnosed as ASD.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.