This study examined the association between (1) beginning-of-the-year emotional exhaustion and use of three evidence-based practices (EBP) for children with autism spectrum disorder; and (2) use of these EBP and end-of-year emotional exhaustion among 46 kindergarden to 2nd grade autism support teachers participating in a randomized trial. Emotional exhaustion was measured at the end and beginning of the school year using a subscale of the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Fidelity was measured using monthly observations, coded by research assistants trained to reliability. Correlations were used to examine unadjusted associations and ordinary least squares regression was used to examine associations adjusted for beginning-of-year burnout, years teaching, and average change in student cognitive functioning. Emotional exhaustion at the beginning of the year was not associated with EBP use. Greater fidelity to each EBP was associated with lower end-of-year emotional exhaustion (coefficients ranging from - .34 to - 1.13, all p's < .05). Results indicate that helping teachers implement EBP with greater fidelity may help reduce burnout, a substantial challenge in the field.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Emotional exhaustion; Fidelity; Special education; Teachers.