Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access



Second Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Linda Stanhope

Second Advisor

Zoe Oxley




autism, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, least restrictive environment, special education, stress, burnout


The prevalence of autism has increased over recent decades. Today, education is the primary intervention for individuals with autism. The ability for students with autism to receive interventions in the classroom comes from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This thesis analyzes the education of students with autism through a critical analysis of the IDEA and the least restrictive environment (LRE) provision specifically. In this analysis, I found that several variables play a key role in the implementation of the LRE, including funding, state of residence, and locale of residence. To further understand the implementation of the LRE, I surveyed special education faculty on their stress and burnout, resources, staffing, support, and the number of students not in the LRE in their classroom. I found that resources, staffing, and support all predict the level of stress and burnout in faculty. Most importantly, I found that the more stress and burnout faculty report, the more students they report who are not in the LRE in their classroom. These findings provide insight into the shortcomings of the IDEA.



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In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.