Background: Most children who have Asperger's Syndrome (AS) are not identified until early school age, when social difficulties with other children become evident. Consequently, primary school teachers have an important role to play both in the recognition and management of the condition.
Objectives: Our study sought to examine the perception of primary school teachers regarding the recognition and management of AS.
Methods: A structured questionnaire on the recognition and management of AS was circulated to all 90 primary school principals in the Fingal County of Dublin for them to copy and distribute to teachers in their schools for completion. Self-addressed envelopes were provided to each principal for the return of completed questionnaires.
Results: Three hundred and forty-three completed questionnaires were returned by 54 out of the 90 school principals. Fifty-eight per cent of respondents reported that they had ever taught a child with the condition and 49% reported that recognition and management of emotional and behavioural disorders was covered in their undergraduate training. Some 78.4% said that they would recognise the symptoms of AS in a child, with those who had training on the recognition and management of emotional and behavioural disorders being more likely to report that they would recognise such symptoms while 71.1% said children with AS should be taught in mainstream classes. However, 77.3% did not think mainstream schools are presently adequately resourced to cater for children with AS. Some 96.2% said they would like to receive in-service training from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services on the detection and management of children with AS.
Conclusion: There is a need for formal in-service training for all primary school teachers in the recognition and management of children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). The recognition and management of children with PDD should also be included in the curriculum of all undergraduate teacher training institutions in Ireland.