Inclusive education in the European Union: A fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis of education policy for autism.
Children with special education needs (SEN), such as children with autism, benefit from being included in education along with typical peers. However, development and implementation of inclusive education (IE) is considered difficult. This paper identifies conditions that facilitate IE development for children with autism in the European Union and benchmarks to track IE policy development. Education policy data from 30 legislative regions in the European Union were analyzed through a qualitative comparative analysis using eight conditions: a definition of SEN, the right to education for children with SEN, support for teaching staff, support services for children with SEN, individualized learning outcomes, parental involvement, and mixed mainstream classes. The right to education for children with SEN is implemented in all regions under study. Seven of the examined conditions were associated with IE: an established definition of SEN, support for teaching staff, support services for children with SEN, individualized learning outcomes, parental involvement, IE policies, and mixed mainstream classrooms. Mixed classrooms and support services for children with SEN were identified as necessary for IE. IE policies and support for teaching staff were present in all scenarios that facilitated IE. While the analysis was initially focused on autism, the policies consisted predominantly of general SEN policies, allowing the results to be interpreted in a wider context, beyond autism. Ultimately, mixed mainstream classrooms and support services for children with special needs were found essential for consistent IE development. Support for teaching staff and IE policies facilitate IE and should be further explored and implemented.