This study examined the effects of a 2-day professional development for special education teachers of students who have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). The professional development included general knowledge of ASDs and teaching strategies that could be used in the classroom to assist children with ASDs. This study also ascertained teachers’ perceptions and knowledge gains as a result of participating in professional development opportunities on ASD. The overarching research question addressed in this study was: Does a professional development on ASDs for special education teachers increase their knowledge of ASD and their knowledge and ability to implement strategies in the classroom? The specific research questions were: 1. Does the professional development change teachers’ perceptions of students with ASD? 2. Does the professional development increase the special education teachers’ knowledge of ASD? 3. Does the professional development provide specific teaching strategies directly related to students with ASDs’ success? The researcher employed a mixed methods approach for this research study. The researcher collected data using the ASD Inventory (pre and post assessment). The study measured participants’ perceptions and knowledge of ASD, provided evidence-based practices to the participants, and assessed the participants’ comfort levels teaching students with ASD. The inventory assessments were analyzed using paired-samples t-test to obtain the final results. The overall goal of this study was to learn about how to create effective professional development experiences for special education teachers in the area of ASDs. The goal was to enhance teachers’ perceptions of teaching students with ASD, increase their technical knowledge of ASD, and improve their knowledge of strategies to use when teaching students with ASD, as assessed by the ASD Inventory. The major findings in this study were that after a 2-day professional development on ASD, there was a significant change in teachers’ perceptions of students with ASD, as well as a significant increase in teachers’ knowledge of ASD. Evidence of teaching strategies provided by the professional development was indicated through the assessment and teacher participation. Therefore, teachers learned strategies to meet the needs of students with ASDs.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership; Special education teachers -- Training of -- United States -- Case studies; Autistic children -- Education -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Harding, Nancy;