Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Sheila Gregory, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Barbara Hill, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Daniel TeodoRrescu, Ph.D.


Even though the official kick-off of special education was witnessed in 1960 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its history dates back to 1958 following the individual efforts of Ahmad Aba Hussein to teach the Braille system to a group of blind people who later proceeded to teach other blind people at their homes. Despite making substantive progress towards ensuring that students with special needs have better access to education through the enactment of various policy frameworks, there is still a lot that needs to be done to realize an inclusive education curriculum for all.

Notably, students with Down syndrome and autism have, for a long time, been disadvantaged in terms of their access to schools due to the stereotypical attitude that they were unteachable. Therefore, the current research study investigated the factors associated with the academic success of fourth- and fifth-grade autistic and Down syndrome students’ successful transition in Saudi Arabia’s public schools.

The study employed a qualitative research approach whereby interviews were used to gather relevant evidence. Study participants were selected randomly, and included four special school teachers in one of Saudi Arabia’s public schools, one education administrator, one counsellor and eight parents. The researcher used interviews to ask participants questions related to the variables in the study.

The findings of this study indicated that teachers believe that schools can adapt the classroom learning environment to address the needs of students with disabilities. Teachers also agreed that having high expectations for students with Down syndrome and autism encouraged them to perform better and showed positive results. Generally, the results showed that offering a conducive learning environment for children with special needs enabled them to attain better academic achievements.

The findings indicated that it is important to give teachers proper and continuous training so that they can address the needs of autistic and Down syndrome students. The major results of the study demonstrated that schools should place students in safe and conducive learning environments. Overall, it is hoped that the findings of this study will inform policy changes aimed to address the needs of autistic and Down syndrome students.