Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education (MAE)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Ankeny

Second Advisor

Allison Gardner


The purpose of this qualitative action research study was to examine parents' perspectives on community integration and social inclusion of their elementary and middle school age children with autism and developmental cognitive disabilities. The information obtained addresses the research question: How can I as a teacher help parents with community integration and social inclusion of their children? The data was collected through four face-to-face interviews. All of the participants' children have developmental disabilities of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as well as cognitive delays and communication disabilities. Four themes emerged from the data; (a) what is working, (b) what is challenging, (c) hopes and dreams, and (d) how to get there. The findings reflected that the participants' belief that their children need to develop skills targeted to increase their success in social inclusion and integration into the community. The data fUrther indicated that community outings would be less stressful for the parents if there were more community awareness of autism and more tolerance of the behaviors associated with the disability. There is a great need for assistance for the parents while out in the community. These conclusions led to recommendations in the areas of establishing routines, increased autism awareness, and more assistance provided to the families.


SC 11.MAE.2015.Bresnahan.S