Chris Edwards

Implementing a tele-classroom consultation approach in rural and remote regions to support a community of practice for teachers supporting young children on the autism spectrum and complex needs in mainstream settings

There has been a rise in the prevalence of young children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While inclusion has demonstrated some positive results for many young children on the spectrum, one key determinant of success is the ability of the educator to effectively meet the child’s needs within mainstream settings. However, many educators lack the necessary skills, training and confidence to successfully support many of the more complex needs of young students on the spectrum. Often further intensifying these issues is the isolation teachers may experience when teaching in rural and remote regions. Professional development has attempted to overcome these difficulties by creating ‘communities of practice’ that offer support and training to these educators. Given the geographic isolation of rural and remote schools, teleconsultation has grown as a cheap and effective alternative method to service delivery yet its application to promote and develop communities of practice is limited. The present study explores this alternate application in supporting communities of practice through two considerably different rural and remote Queensland schools. The present study assesses teleconsultation to develop a community of practice to equip teachers in rural and remote regions with the skills to support the more complex needs of students on the spectrum.

Principal Supervisor: A/Prof Beth Saggers

Associate Supervisor: Prof Suzanne Carrington