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SAT: Inclusion of Autistic Spectrum Disorder Students Within Online Open Education (David Simons)

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David Simons
4 January 2019

Researcher: David Simons

Research focus: Investigation into the inclusion problems that ASD students encounter in online Open Education.

Presentation Title: Inclusion of Autistic Spectrum Disorder Students Within Online Open Education.

Presentation Type: Oral and multimedia



Every online educator at some stage in their career will come across students with ASD and it is important to understand some of the problems that they face in order to give them the best educational and inclusive experience as any other student within the institution. The initial research carried out for this presentation stems from my own online teaching experience with ASD students and how difficult it is to get them to interact

Following a look at understanding the problem, the aim will be to show trials and research conducted in an educational environment in new methods designed to get ASD students more interactive and submitting work more often. The approach used for the research was to take ASD students alongside non ASD students in order to get a comparable set of results, a policy that was taken by the Australian government in their education policy (2018).  The research carried out in this presentation will demonstrate that it is not practical to assume that this can be the case without adaptation and specialist training for the tutors.

The problem was approached by designing a way that research could be carried out within an online international school environment whilst maintaining ongoing educational progress, without impact for all involved. In order to design the study, various classes throughout key stage 4 and 5 were chosen based on proportion of SEN students to non- SEN students with an average ratio of 4:5. As well as conducting trial educational methods with these students, a study was carried out with my own son who has autism to observe the needs and stages that students face in situations to understand the condition prior to a classroom environment.

Analysis of the condition prior to a classroom environment demonstrated need for reassurance until a familiar person was added to the situation, producing the surprising effect of the child then taking control of the situation around them and with others. The trials within the classroom environment proved more difficult to assess given that there was no physical visual way to see the student. Initially there was no change which what is was first expected but then an increase in work submitted by SEN students who had previously submitted no work at all. This was surprising in that it was expected that the change would be in the classroom rather than externally; in addition, there was an increase in SEN students willing to use the microphone within class.

The results demonstrate the need for new tools designed in order to check the participation and concentration of SEN students. This allows open education to be open in all definitions of the term. It is believed that this will be a slow process to change in education as not enough is understood about ASD or SEN students.

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Phill Grimes
11:28pm 13 February 2019 (Edited 11:29pm 13 February 2019)

Do you think that any positives or negatives here could work by moving from traditional classroom to a blended approach? I wonder if the different structures in place may be confusing?

Dr Simon Ball
4:26pm 18 February 2019

Hi David

Well done on a great presentation! Here is a summary of the comments and questions you received following your presentation (including those you may have addressed verbally). Please respond in whatever way you choose - I suspect you may wish to deal with the first few in one response!

Best wishes


  • How do we know these figures are correct as often parents do not report homeschooled students. Difficult to get exact figures?
  • Why do they think it is harder to access education?
  • Graduates with autism have the worst outcomes among disables students for graduate employment
  • Why will the percentage increase? (Of autistic people among the general population - stat quoted)
  • Do you think local teachers are trained to deal with ASD?
  • Is there a possibility to provide 'hybrid' learning for neurodiverse students?
  • If you have to give 3 or 4 essential tips to teachers to deal with ASD students what would it be?
  • Can you explain more about how individuals can adapt resources. Do you mean teachers or students or both?
  • A mainstream secondary school in Slough has Autism Hub so students with autism get a mix of time in small groups with specialised approach and also time within the classrooms with support

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