Perspectives on Inclusive Education of Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities in Iran

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Oct 20;15(10):2307. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15102307.


Background: Iranian children with disabilities invariably attend special schools and many may be excluded from education entirely. Information on preschool education is limited but probably mirrors the situation in schools. There is a lack of information in terms of parental preferences for schooling and teachers' experiences of inclusion in Iran. Method: Two feasibility studies were undertaken; one with 89 parents of children with autism or intellectual disabilities, and another with the head teachers of two private kindergartens. Results: Two-thirds of parents favored inclusive schools; most parents whose children had autism or were verbally proficient were in favor of their child attending ordinary schools, even if their child had been placed in a specialist preschool facility. The head teachers justified inclusion in terms of children's rights but identified three main challenges: coping with the diverse level of functioning, the need for special devices and training of teachers, and challenging the negative reactions of parents of non-disabled children. Conclusions: Further exploration of the views of those who have experienced inclusion would further challenge existing practices. Moreover, the training and preparation of teachers is key to reforming schools. However, wider social values and beliefs towards disabilities also need to change.

Keywords: autism; developmental disabilities; inclusive education; parents’ attitudes; teachers’ attitudes.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / rehabilitation*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / rehabilitation*
  • Education of Intellectually Disabled / organization & administration*
  • Education, Special / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male