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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teachers’ perspectives on the student-teacher relationship quality in female students with autism spectrum disorder Lazo, Melissa


While the student-teacher relationship is highly associated with students' and teachers’ success and development, students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to have relationships characterized by higher levels of conflict and lower levels of closeness. Much of the research, however, has used primarily male samples when investigating ASD. This poses a risk to the generalizability of the findings to the female experience as studies have found that females with ASD tend to present different symptoms than males with ASD. The current study utilized a survey research design to examine Canadian elementary school teachers’ perceptions of the quality of their student-teacher relationship with their female students with ASD and its possible associations with teacher and student characteristics. Teachers in this study reported having low- quality relationships with their female students with ASD with high levels of conflict and dependency, and low levels of closeness. Results also indicate a negative correlation between teachers’ experience teaching and the student-teacher relationship quality. Neither previous exposure to individuals with ASD nor previous training in ASD were found to be associated with the student-teacher relationship quality. However, having specific training involving sex-related differences in ASD was associated with a more positive student-teacher relationship quality. Teachers’ confidence and knowledge in working with females with ASD were also associated with the student-teacher relationship quality. Additionally, student-related characteristics (e.g., social and communication skills symptom severity, internalizing and externalizing problems) were negatively correlated with the student-teacher relationship quality. Implications for research and practice, as well as future directions, are presented.

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