Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology


School of Psychology


This research explored the history of segregation and the challenge to the status quo that led to the political and social interest in inclusive education. It explores the benefits and challenges of inclusive education, especially as it pertains to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who often experience bullying and exclusion in mainstream settings. The first study reviews teacher knowledge, confidence and attitude toward the inclusion of children with ASD in mainstream classrooms and their perception of bullying and exclusion behaviour in early education. The results of this study indicated that educators’ positive attitudes are closely linked to their confidence in creating inclusive classrooms, and their perceived level of bullying and exclusion was also linked to their attitudes toward inclusion. Thus, the more positive educators were toward inclusion, the more inclusion they perceived and vice versa. The results created an impetus for the development and testing of an intervention called “Understanding our Peers: The Early Years”. The program was developed to decrease bullying and exclusion and increase inclusive behaviour toward children with ASD in early education settings. The preliminary results from the pilot of the program suggests that the intervention is effective in reducing bullying and exclusion for children with ASD and this improvement was sustained at follow up. Implications, recommendations and limitations are discussed.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.