Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Wellness and Inclusive Services Education


College of Education


Brent Elder, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Amy Accardo, Ed.D.

Committee Member 2

Sarah Ferguson, Ph.D.


collective qualitative case study, autism, inclusive education, Saudi Arabia, sensemaking theory, teachers


Special education


Special Education and Teaching


In this dissertation, I conducted a collective qualitative case study to understand the personal experiences and sensemaking processes that teachers developed to educate students with labels of autism in inclusion settings in Riyadh public schools. Specifically, I aimed to understand how teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge regarding the inclusion of autistic students explained why teachers did what they did in their school context. In three rounds of semistructured interviews with eight teachers, participants explained their experiences and process of teaching students with autism. Participants also shared documents and artifacts to provide a deeper understanding of the nature of inclusion offered and their relevance in supporting inclusive education capabilities for students with autism. This study was guided by sensemaking theory and the conceptual frameworks of disability studies, disability studies in education, and critical disability studies. I selected the participants using purposeful sampling and analyzed the data using inductive analysis techniques. Five major themes emerged with subthemes throughout the data analysis: (a) teachers’ attitudes, (b) teachers’ knowledge and understanding, (c) teachers’ sensemaking of social and school system barriers, (d) teachers’ sensemaking of their teaching practices, and (e) teachers’ sensemaking of how the roles of school leaders and special education supervisors influence their teaching practices.

Available for download on Saturday, March 14, 2026