Parents’ Perception of Children With Disabilities in Saudi Arabia

Legal Requirements Regarding Placement of Young Children with Disabilities in the Least Restrictive Environment

Children with special needs have traditionally been segregated from the mainstream educational system because of their intellectual and physical limitations (Lansdown, 2009). Concerns about the prevalence of segregation in the school setting have led many countries to develop laws that safeguard this population’s rights in the educational sector. From this movement, the concept of the least restrictive environment (LRE) has emerged as a key part of advocacy efforts for improving educational quality and access to children with disability (Ford, 2013; Wills, Morton, McLean, Stephenson, & Slee, 2014).

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Least Restrictive Environment

Disability Rights California (DRC) (2017) states:

The LRE is a requirement in federal law that students with disabilities receive their education, to the maximum extent appropriate, with nondisabled peers and that special education students are not removed from regular classes unless, even with supplemental aids and services, education in regular classes cannot be achieved satisfactorily. (p. 1)

Implementation of LRE principles in education is subject to the level of appropriateness of learning content provided to children with special needs because each one of them has unique needs and requirements (Ford, 2013; Chris & Keith, 2012).

Types of Least Restrictive Environments

There are two main types of least restrictive environment – full inclusion and partial inclusion (Chris & Keith, 2012). Full inclusion guarantees the maximum frequency of interaction between children with disability and their peers without disabilities (Chris & Keith, 2012). At best, children with disabilities spend the same amount of time in the general education setting as their counterparts who do not have disabilities (Disability Rights California, 2017). Part of full inclusion involves ensuring that these students are provided with learning materials that enrich their learning experiences (Chris & Keith, 2012). In this regard, full inclusion minimizes the probability that children with special needs are excluded from the general educational setting (Chris & Keith, 2012).

Partial inclusion differs from full inclusion because it is not focused on the amount of time the students with disabilities spend in the general education classroom but on the quality of learning made available to these students (Disability Rights California, 2017). Therefore, it may allow teachers to remove children from the general education setting if it appears that the quality of their learning is negatively affected by full inclusion (Disability Rights California, 2017). In this case, the strategy means that these students spend part of their day in the general education setting and part in a special education environment where they receive specialized education services tailored to their needs.

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Mainstreaming vs. Inclusion

To understand the tenets of the LRE, it is important to comprehend two concepts – mainstreaming and inclusion. According to Disability Rights California (2017), mainstreaming refers to the “placement of a student with disabilities into ongoing activities of regular classrooms so that the child receives education with nondisabled peers – even if special education staff must provide supplementary resource services” (p. 2). Comparatively, the concept of inclusion is defined as “the integration of a student with disabilities into the regular education program — with special support” (Disability Rights California, 2017, p. 2). Based on these definitions, mainstreaming emerges as a form of partial inclusion because teachers sometimes place children in special education classes to get additional learning instructions. This strategy keeps them away from other children who are in the general education classroom (Morin, 2018).

Many issues characterize the implementation of inclusion (Chris & Keith, 2012). First, there is a lack of understanding among educators about how to merge the roles of special education and mainstream teachers in the LRE (Chris & Keith, 2012). Another is the possibility that general education students might not accept their peers with disabilities (Chris & Keith, 2012). Furthermore, as documented in a study conducted in the Czech Republic by Kratochvílová and Havel (2014), sometimes the necessary legislative requirements for supporting inclusive education are either missing or ambiguously defined. These issues partly stem from the failure of institutions to understand different types of LRE and their effects on inclusive learning programs.

Laws and Tools Governing the Least Restrictive Environment

The history of laws governing the rights of children with disabilities is based on several landmark cases (Noguera, Pierce, & Ahram, 2015; Chris & Keith, 2012). Specifically, the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of 1971 and the Mills v. Board of Education of the District of Columbia of 1972 are two of the most impactful cases (Noguera et al., 2015; Chris & Keith, 2012). They both challenged the legitimacy of practices in the educational system that denied children with special needs the opportunity to access quality education based on behavioral and policy issues, such as those that prohibited children who had not achieved a mental age of 5 years from getting education services. (Osgood, 2008). The rulings on these cases also ensured that children with learning disabilities be enrolled in public schools, regardless of their learning or physical limitations (Chris & Keith, 2012). Based on their contributions to the education system, the need to reexamine admission criteria to public schools for children with special needs emerged and stakeholders resolved that these students should be integrated into the general education setting because doing so better stimulates their intellectual growth and development (Chris & Keith, 2012). These decisions also led to the development of multiple other laws, such as the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) of 1975, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004, and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. They are discussed below

Laws

Education for All Handicapped Children Act – EAHCA (1975)

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was legislated in 1975 by the 94th US Congress. Under section PL 94-142 of the Act, schools were required to place children with disability in the least restrictive environment (La Salle et al., 2013). The goal of doing so was to allow special needs students to have maximum interaction with children who did not have disability. This law also allowed educators to create separate classes if they had trouble meeting instructional goals in the regular classroom. Generally, this legislation was designed to achieve four main goals. The first one was to avail special education services to children who needed them. The second one was to ensure fairness and appropriateness in formulating decisions affecting the quality of education services offered to children with special needs. The last two goals were meant to introduce management and audit requirements for schools that provide education services to special needs students and to provide financial support from the federal government to students who have special needs. This law was modified by the introduction of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990. It is discussed below.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – 1990

The IDEA 1990 was introduced as an improvement to the EAHCA. The initial amendments made in 1990 changed the name EAHCA to IDEA. They also added new categories of legislation (for autism and traumatic brain injury), introduced transition services, redefined related educational services and renamed the EAHCA to IDEA (Al-Kahtani, 2015). One of the most notable contributions of this law to early childhood education is the introduction of a requirement for teachers to develop an individualized transition plan for special needs children who are under the age of 16 years (Alquraini, 2013). It also promotes interagency linkages in early childhood education. Further amendments were made in 1997 and 2004 (Alquraini, 2013). They were meant to increase access to education services for children with special needs by focusing on the concept of “person first” as opposed to “disability first.’ In this regard, disability was viewed as only a part of a child and not their identity. The law that embodied these changes was the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, which is highlighted below.

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Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) – 2004

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has gone through a number of changes and reauthorizations. As highlighted above, it was originally the 1990 reauthorization of the Educational of All Handicapped Children of 1975 (Alquraini, 2013). Currently, IDEIA of 2004 is the most relevant and important legislation based on the various requirements it sets out regarding educating children with disabilities. Generally, it focuses on improving the educational standards of children between the ages of 3 and 21 years old (Alquraini, 2013; La Salle, Roach, & McGrath, 2013).

As its name suggests, the IDEIA is personalized to the needs of an individual child with disabilities and is developed through periodic evaluation of a child’s special education needs (Burns, 2006; La Salle et al., 2013). In line with this reasoning, the IDEIA advocates for the creation of inclusive learning environments for children with physical and intellectual disabilities (Hamilton-Jones & Vail, 2014) and encourages increased access to educational opportunities for children with disabilities (Bouck, 2009). The IDEIA suggests that educators should consider two issues before implementing inclusivity in the general education setting (Bouck, 2009; Zirkel, 2013). The first one is “appropriateness” because it cautions educators to only implement inclusivity in situations where doing so is appropriate to the children with special needs (Hamilton-Jones & Vail, 2014). Stated differently, it suggests that there is no one-size-fit-all approach to the provision of special education services. Children have unique needs and teachers ought to make sure that the special education services are specific to these needs.

The second one is record of success because it allows teachers to withdraw children with disabilities from the general education setting if they have used learning materials to support their education and failed (Hamilton-Jones & Vail, 2014). This principle examines the importance of making sure that the LRE is beneficial to children with special needs. Therefore, it strives to make sure that children with special needs are not merely enrolled in general education systems for the sake of it, but actually improving their educational performance by studying in the LRE.

These two preconditions trace their origins to the need for educators to provide inclusive education only if it is appropriate and beneficial to children with disabilities (Hamilton-Jones & Vail, 2014). For example, it is unnecessary to encourage teachers to implement inclusivity in an educational institution that does not provide useful facilitative materials to make inclusion a success (Bouck, 2009; Zirkel, 2013). Therefore, “appropriateness” is subject to different interpretations and variations of children’s learning needs.

Part C in IDEIA is designed to not only focus on children alone but it also includes family-centered practices (Alquraini, 2013). Regarding the early intervention programs and the LRE for infants and toddlers with disabilities. Part C required implementation of early childhood special education services that were family-centered, coordinated interagency services, and multidisciplinary for young children with disabilities, ages birth to three years, and their families. Part C embassies on four types of services specifically to serve families, which include: 1) Family training [34 CFR § 303.12(d) (3)]; 2) Service coordination services [34 CFR § 303.12(d) (11)]; 3) Social work services [34 CFR § 303.12(d) (3)]; and 4) Special instruction [34 CFR § 303.12(d) (13)] (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, 2004).

The IDEIA shares certain goals with the least restrictive environment in the sense that they both promote increased access to education opportunities for students with disabilities (Burns, 2006; La Salle et al., 2013). The IDEIA is comprised of different parts: (a) Part A talks about improving the academic, functional and developmental needs of children with disabilities, while part (B) added the term “improvement of present level of performance” to the operationalization of LRE (La Salle et al., 2013). The implication of this addition is that teachers could provide additional services for reasons other than academic achievement (La Salle et al., 2013). This provision is consistent with section C of the same act which emphasizes the need to provide educational services, regardless of whether a child has successfully completed a given grade level, will need to re-do all or part of the grade, or has failed the grade (Burns, 2006). Overall, these sections of the IDEIA point to the need to provide educational services based on children’s special needs and not necessarily on their academic performance.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – 2015

According to the U.S. Department of Education (2018), the ESSA was introduced to affirm the principle of equal opportunity for all children in the American education system. The law was introduced to address some of the inherent weaknesses of the No Child Left behind (NCLB) Act, which focused too much on standardized test scores and school failure. This law advances equity by upholding critical protections of American disadvantaged children, and expanded increased access to high quality preschool for children with special needs (U.S. Department of Education, 2018).

Tools

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

The IFSP was introduced as a legislative tool for improving the effectiveness of the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1986, Public Law 99-457. The law requires support of pre-aged schoolchildren below the age of 3 years. Children who are above this age should seek support for their educational services through the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) (Aytekin, 2016; Giuliani, 2012). Another difference between the two is that the IFSP only reviews educational progress bi-annually, while the IEP recommends that such reviews should occur annually (Aytekin, 2016; La Salle et al., 2013).

Broadly, the IFSP is centered on the family because at this stage, the child’s routines are greatly influenced by the decisions of the parents. It discusses how interventions and services can be provided in family and other settings, such as daycare (Aytekin, 2016). Generally, the IFSP is done through a collaborative effort between teachers and families to create a set of criteria that would be use to examine the growth of children with special needs (Aytekin, 2016; Hammel & Hourigan, 2017; Noguera et al., 2015). The goal of adopting this strategy is to support a child’s unique learning needs and style. Therefore, the IFSP allows professionals to work with family members to come up with a learning program, which other members of the care team (such as caregivers) have to abide by. It is expected that by doing so, the children targeted would be better prepared for school.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

The FAPE dictates that children with special needs are entitled to an education, which is appropriate to their learning needs, as outlined in the IEP (Johnson, 2009). The FAPE traces its roots from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Kim, Losen, & Hewitt, 2010). It also has a relationship with the Individuals with Disability Education Act based on the principle that they both strive to promote the expansion of educational opportunities for children with disabilities (Maria, 2015). Therefore, the FAPE is similar to other laws, which recognize the need to accommodate educational services to meet personal learning requirements of children with special needs (Maria, 2015). Based on the principle of appropriateness, FAPE supports the need to enroll children with disabilities in learning environments that have minimal or no restrictions. This way, integration is achieved because children who have special needs should be given the same opportunities for learning as regular students do (Kim et al., 2010).

Collectively, the above shows how multiple laws support inclusive education and the provision of learning in the least restrictive environment. Consequently, educational institutions in the United States have taken steps to assimilate these concepts into how they deliver curriculum. However, there are some challenges to doing so. For example, while schools have focused on determining ways to make education more accessible to children with learning disabilities, there is often the need for physical accommodation that children with disabilities require in order to access education (Bouck, 2009; Zirkel, 2013). At the same time, some critics say the concept of least restrictive environment refers to a general need to minimize restrictions to quality education, but does not holistically address the educational needs of children with special needs (Ryndak et al., 2014).

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

The IEP is a document outlining how public schools should provide education services to children with special needs (Burns, 2006). It is aimed at meeting the individualized learning objectives of students who have special needs (Banerjee & Luckner, 2013). Therefore, this tool requires teachers to tailor education services to meet the individualized needs of special needs students (Aytekin, 2016).

Regulations of Special Education Programs and Institutes (RSEPI)

The Regulations of Special Education Programs and Institutes has several articles that relate to the provision of education services in Saudi Arabia. For example, the second article of the RSEPI advocates for the provision of education services for children with special needs, relative to their learning requirements (Alquraini, 2013). Although this piece of legislation accentuates the need for children with special needs to get quality educational aspects of it that are related to inclusion and the concept of the LRE because they influence the placement of children in the least restrictive environment. For example, the third chapter of the law suggests that students with special needs should be educated in general education classrooms (Alquraini, 2013). It also encourages teachers to consider several alternatives for placement before making a decision on whether to integrate children with special needs in the general education classroom, or not. Lastly, the law advocates for the need to fulfill the individual learning needs of children with disability (Alquraini, 2013).

Implementing Successful Inclusive Early Learning Environments in the United States and Saudi Arabia

Different researchers have pointed out that successful inclusive education programs require support from education stakeholders (Alquraini, 2010; Alharbi & Madhesh, 2018; Buli-Holmberg & Jeyaprathaban, 2016). Relative to this assertion, in the United States, experts have pointed out that teacher characteristics, child behaviors, and collaboration could influence the success of inclusive learning programs (Bouck, 2009; Zirkel, 2013). Stated differently, it is important to understand how different stakeholder dynamics influence how inclusive education is implemented.

Different countries have unique perceptions of such collaboration, based on cultural, policy, and social characteristics. For example, in Saudi Arabia, the concept of inclusive education is not effectively practiced due to such issues as the segregation of some children with disabilities in separate institutions (Alquraini, 2010; Alharbi & Madhesh, 2018; Buli-Holmberg & Jeyaprathaban, 2016). This model of education is a type of segregation because it isolates children with special needs from those without such needs and allows little room for collaboration to occur among the stakeholders involved. The segregated model, which requires teachers to place special needs students in their classrooms, is practiced in most parts of the kingdom because it stems from an inherent belief among most education stakeholders in Saudi Arabia that children with disabilities are incapable of learning in the mainstream education system (Alharbi & Madhesh, 2018; Alquraini, 2010). This segregated model is criticized for further entrenching the belief that special needs students need to be integrated in regular classrooms, as it presupposes that learning issues are always student-based, as opposed to system-based (Alharbi & Madhesh, 2018).

Benefits and Challenges of Inclusive Education

Benefits

Research has found that when children with special needs are integrated into an inclusive learning environment they exhibit greater success and are positively influenced by working and learning alongside their peers without disabilities (Noguera et al., 2015). This benefit arises from the understanding that learning is more successful when it occurs in a respectful and understanding environment; one which accommodates children from diverse backgrounds and of different learning abilities (Almalki, 2017). An inclusive environment also allows children with disabilities to develop social bonds with their typical peers (Noguera et al., 2015). Consequently, the benefits of inclusive education go beyond academics to encompass social growth, which considered a key part of learning development (Noguera et al., 2015).

Some studies have linked increased learning opportunities with inclusive education (Bouck, 2009; Zirkel, 2013). They say that students who learn in an inclusive environment are exposed to age-appropriate learning content, thereby facilitating their learning processes (Noguera et al., 2015). Such learning methods can make students with special needs feel more challenged and committed to perform better (academically) compared to an environment where they would be learning in a non-inclusive setting, which is designed to support children who have learning impairments. Thus, integration makes them feel at par with children who do not have disability because they are peers.

Lastly, low levels of prejudice and social disharmony have been associated with inclusive education because researchers have found that most children who learn with their counterparts who have disability tend to have lower levels of inhibition in considering them “normal people” (Zirkel, 2013). Comparatively, isolation creates intolerance among students because they cannot understand individual differences among people and communities (Bouck, 2009; Zirkel, 2013). These differences are minimized because inclusive learning environments eliminate the tag of “special education students,” among children with disabilities, thereby allowing them to feel integrated and accepted by the general student populace (Noguera et al., 2015). This statement is supported by research, which shows that most students who are integrated into general education systems forget that children with disabilities need learning assistance and have different learning capabilities (Bouck, 2009). Generally, these views show that inclusivity has numerous benefits for children with disabilities.

Challenges

Although few people disagree with the fact that inclusion is beneficial to different types of children with varied levels of learning abilities (Hill & Sukbunpant, 2013), they are yet to overcome some of the challenges associated with its implementation. For example, the lack of proper training for teachers to implement inclusive education is one of the main challenges associated with its use (Noguera et al., 2015). The problem is worse among schools that do not have support staff for implementing this type of education system (Noguera et al., 2015). At the same time, many educational institutions have reported problems maintaining a paraprofessional staff that helps to implement inclusive education programs (Bouck, 2009; Zirkel, 2013). Relative to the above concerns, some experts doubt the ability of the general education system to accommodate inclusive education and all its tenets (Chris & Keith, 2012). In other words, there are doubts regarding whether general education can accommodate children with disabilities, or not. This is why the uniqueness of inclusive education fails to manifest in certain education settings.

Critics of inclusive education also say it is unrealistic for its proponents to expect both children who have and do not have disability to register similar performance because they have different learning abilities (Chris & Keith, 2012; Venianaki & Zervakis, 2015). This concern has been commonly cited in instances where inclusivity is poorly implemented, and the principle of appropriateness is rarely observed (Chris & Keith, 2012). Critics have also expressed doubt regarding the ability of children without disability to interact freely with children who have special needs (Bouck, 2009; Zirkel, 2013). A Malaysian-based study supports this view when it reported that negative attitudes towards children with special needs hampered law enforcement, compliance with disability laws, and family involvement (Hill & Sukbunpant, 2013). In this regard, critics of inclusive education say it is difficult for some general education children to accept those with disability in their learning settings, especially if they are experiencing inclusion for the first time (Bouck, 2009; Zirkel, 2013). Concerns about the ability of faculty members to collaborate effectively have also been reported as a challenge to inclusion because a successful education program requires effective collaboration among members (Noguera et al., 2015). Based on these concerns, there have been attempts to improve the efficiency of inclusive programs in different school settings. Collaboration is one way.

Rationale for the Importance of Examining the Role That Collaboration Plays In Supporting Successful Early Intervention

Many researchers say collaboration is an important part of implementing inclusivity in early childhood development (Hilado, Kallemeyn, & Phillips, 2013). It refers to the partnership forged among different stakeholders of a child’s education team (Hilado et al., 2013). In light of these views, research studies have shown that collaboration among different stakeholders in the inclusive learning environment supports successful early intervention (Kratochvílováa & Havel, 2014; Alharbi & Madhesh, 2018). For example, studies by Adams, Harris, and Jones (2016) suggest that collaboration between families and educators improves the educational standards among children with special needs. A study by Khairuddin, Dally, and Foggett (2016) alluded to this fact by showing that collaboration was pivotal in improving the academic achievement of children with disabilities. However, the same study reported concerns about the extent of its implementation in countries, such as Saudi Arabia, which have not fully embraced it (Khairuddin et al., 2016).

Collaboration in the inclusive learning environment is also linked with increased levels of academic achievement and a heightened degree of preparedness for children with special needs to integrate in the general educational setting (Adams et al., 2016). Educators have also associated collaboration with improved teaching skills because it allows them to understand the strengths and limitations of children with special needs (Kratochvílováa & Havel, 2014; Alharbi & Madhesh, 2018). This benefit is particularly important in the inclusive learning environment, which requires every student to get educational services that are appropriate to their learning abilities (Kratochvílováa & Havel, 2014; Alharbi & Madhesh, 2018). Consequently, collaboration between teachers and family members could help to establish the level of appropriate learning content that should be developed for children with disabilities.

Literature Review

This literature review provides an analysis of what other researchers have said about inclusion and collaboration in early childhood in Saudi Arabia. The review is the product of a search through Saudi or U.S. -based empirical studies, which discussed families’ perceptions toward collaboration in early childhood development. The empirical studies were sourced from several credible databases, including Google Scholar, JSTOR, Emerald Insight, Saudi Digital Library (SDL), EBSCOhost/H.W. Wilson, and ProQuest. The keywords and phrases used were “collaboration,” “family perceptions,” “Saudi Arabia,” “United States,” and “early childhood education.” This review focused on three domains of study: inclusion, the role of collaboration, and the perceptions of parents of young children with disabilities regarding inclusion and collaboration. The first area of study that will be presented will be examined will be research on the role of collaboration.

Studies on the Role of Collaboration

Collaboration in the inclusive learning environment has been studied particularly related to the roles of three groups in supporting successful early intervention: the children themselves, their teachers, and their parents. The role of teachers as collaborators is important to the inclusive learning environment because they are often the first professionals to assess a child’s needs and can then develop appropriate curricula and instruction to support children with disabilities. Therefore, their role in collaboration is a common working theme that generates useful lesson content that appeal to the unique needs of children with special needs. At the same time, they are in a position to promote equality in the provision of learning materials for all students, including those with disabilities.

In the inclusive learning environment, teachers have a responsibility to give status updates and reports to parents and other stakeholders about the progress of children with disabilities. Additionally, they can provide accurate data about the educational progress of children under their care because they spend such substantial time with them. Therefore, teachers are the custodians of collaboration in early childhood development. This is why a number of the studies sampled pointed out the need to provide teachers training as a prerequisite to establishing an inclusive learning environment and enabling the collaborative environment necessary to support it (Anderson, 2013; Lee et al., 2015; Alsalman et al., 2016).

For example, in a study aimed at evaluating how to build successful collaborative practices among early childhood educators, Alsalman, Harvey, Rashida, Lewis, and Kathleen (2016) found that collaboration among educators, children, and parents is critical in implementing effective inclusion programs. The study also highlighted the need to prepare teachers to implement inclusion in the educational setting because this is necessary to creating positive attitudes in teachers toward inclusion (Alsalman et al., 2016). The Alsalman (2016) study involved 19 teacher participants and included reviewing course content and observing the implementation of inclusive education in the classroom setting (Alsalman et al., 2016). The analysis was done within a broader qualitative assessment of the views of teachers about inclusive learning (Alsalman et al., 2016). Data was gathered using three methods: observation, interview, and document review. Using the above-mentioned methodology, Alsalman et al. (2016) found that 58% of the research sample held positive views regarding inclusion. The respondents also emphasized the need to increase applied collaboration skills in the inclusive learning environment by improving coursework design, practical experience in the classroom setting, and field experience (Alsalman et al., 2016). In line with this finding, Alsalman et al. (2016) stated that simply providing preservice teachers with effective skills about collaboration would not improve the quality of educational services if there are no opportunities to use these skills in the classroom setting (Alsalman et al., 2016). Therefore, the researchers pointed out that in addition to equipping tecahers with the necessary skills to collaborate with other education stakeholders, they also need to be given an opportunity to utilize those skills (Alsalman et al., 2016).

In a different study, Anderson (2013) explored teachers’ preparedness during training in early education and found that some of them were concerned about the impact ambiguous roles and responsibilities have on their performance in the inclusive learning setting. At the same time, Anderson (2013) reported that there were differences in how teachers understood child behavior and perceived the availability of partnership opportunities in the inclusive learning setting (Anderson, 2013). These views were developed after the researcher sought the views of early education teachers who worked within an inter-professional setting, as part of their graduate coursework (Anderson, 2013). This was a qualitative study and data was gathered through focus group discussions with 21 participants who had worked for at least 2 years in the early childhood education setting (Anderson, 2013).

A Saudi-based study conducted by Murry and Alqahtani (2015) also explored teachers’ preparedness to participate in inclusive learning environments and found that 64% of pre-service teachers did not understand the legal foundations of special education or how inclusive education programs should be implemented. Based on these findings, the authors proposed that teachers should constantly work to update their knowledge of inclusion (Murry & Alqahtani, 2015). The researchers developed these findings by gathering the views of 52 respondents using survey technique. Data was analyzed using tables and graphs, but no information relating to standards of deviation or means was provided.

Similarly, Lee, Yeung, Tracey, and Barker (2015) found that some teachers are not prepared to implement inclusive education in their schools. This study, which employed quantitative method with a sample population of 410 teachers, did find modest support for collaboration (Lee et al., 2015). Teachers who had received prior training about inclusive education registered the highest support for collaboration with a mean of 4.61 and SD of 0.53 (Lee et al., 2015). Teachers who did not have prior training reported a relatively lower level of support (M = 4.38; SD = 0.60) (Lee et al., 2015). The types of disability examined in this investigation were intellectual, visual, hearing, speech, and language (Lee et al., 2015). The study did not identify which of these disabilities garnered the strongest support from teachers.

A significant body of literature has also explored the role of collaboration by highlighting its impacts. For example, Fallon and Zhang (2013) explored the impact of collaboration among professionals teaching special needs children with autism disorders and found it improves the diversity of teams and the quality of communication among collaborators in the inclusive setting. The study involved 44 newly recruited teachers in special education programs (38 female and 6 males). Fallon and Zhang (2013) adopted a mixed methods approach, but the primary method of data collection was survey. The mean of the findings was 3.33 (based on a scale of 1-5). This figure implies that the respondents generally “agreed” with the findings presented in the paper.

In a mixed methods study, Young (2017) reported similar findings after exploring the impact of collaboration on the physical and gross motor development of young children with Down syndrome. The study showed that children made significant gains in object control skills after the adoption of collaborative techniques in an inclusive learning setting (Young, 2017). This study examined 19 respondents 3- to 6-years old, whose educational development was characterized by the involvement of parents and teachers (Young, 2017). The sample population was divided into three groups. The first was comprised of children who experienced adapted physical education; the second consisted of children in adapted physical education plus picture card homework; and, the last group was children provided with adapted physical education supplemented with instructional online video materials (Young, 2017). The characteristics of each group of respondents were measured and assessed based on how well their motor development skills improved after teachers started to collaborate with parents in the inclusive learning setting (Young, 2017). Their motor skills were also assessed relative to four key metrics – their ability to throw, catch, kick, and strike two-handedly (Young, 2017). Interventions were assessed using the test of gross motor development over a 12-week period. The findings were that all three groups showed improved object control skills (M = 3.8; SD = 0.654) (Young, 2017). These findings show that collaboration could help to improve motor skills for children with disabilities.

A study by James (2016) investigated the effects of collaboration on early intervention in a Texas pre-school. In this quantitative study, 14 teachers attended meetings, whose purpose was to estimate the progress of their children with disabilities (aged between 2 and 3) after collaborating with their parents to improve their educational achievement. The discussions happened over a seven-week period and the respondents’ experiences were obtained using the survey technique (James, 2016). The findings were that 57% of the teachers felt that collaboration helped them feel valued and supported (James, 2016). The researcher also found that inclusive classrooms were conducive to the learning of children with special needs (James, 2016).

A study by Murray, Handyside, Straka, and Arton-Titus (2013) found positive effects of collaboration in the inclusive learning environment after investigating the perceptions of families who had children between the ages of 2 and 4 regarding collaboration with teachers. This was a qualitative study that sampled the views of 71 parents who had children with disabilities using focus group discussions that were (audio) recorded (Murray, Handyside, Straka, & Arton-Titus, 2013). The participants collaborated with their children’s teachers in a 16-week special education course that occurred in each year between 2006 and 2010 (Murray et al., 2013).

The researchers evaluated three issues: (a) the transformation of parents’ views from impersonal to caring; (b) how collaboration helped parents to be confident about the type of learning their children received, as opposed to an adversarial situation where with the professionals responsible for their children’s education; and, (c) how collaboration helped educators become more trusting of parents as opposed to being defensive about their work with the children (Murray et al., 2013). The researchers found that collaboration made families more hopeful about the future of their children’s education (Murray et al., 2013). Particularly, the informants agreed that collaboration helped to integrate children with special needs into the community, as was seen from one statement made by a teacher, “If you do not include children with disabilities, then all the other people never know how to react to them either. So, when they get into the community as adults, they do not know what to do” (Murray et al., 2013, pp. 154-155).

A closely related study by Goldstein (2015) sought to find out the perceptions of teachers regarding collaboration and its effect on their levels of motivation. Using an approach grounded in the social constructivist theory, Goldstein (2015) interviewed 18 teachers and observed their collaborative sessions in real time. This qualitative study established that collaboration improved the morale of teachers by increasing planning time and creating a collegial atmosphere in the learning environment (Goldstein, 2015). The findings also suggested that informal types of collaboration among teachers provided the greatest support for the practice. This view was supported by a statement made by a teacher, “The most useful collaboration is teachers just getting together informally and sharing ideas. The more specific the better for all participants” (Goldstein, 2015, p. 61). Nonetheless, time was observed as being the biggest deterrent to forging successful partnerships between teachers and their colleagues (Goldstein, 2015).

In a different study, Hagelman (2013) investigated how educators might collaborate in an inclusive learning environment. After sampling the views of 81 teachers working as pre-kindergarten educators and using quantitative research method, the researcher found that the practice helped to improve teachers’ educational planning processes (Hagelman, 2013). Their views were collected using survey technique and the findings were that collaboration helped to improve the relationship between special and general education teachers because they were motivated to work together in the inclusive classroom setting. The data indicated a strong correlation based on the reported perceptions of the participants (M = 4.2).

Another study sought to understand the barriers that impede the creation of collaborative networks between teachers and parents (Wanat, 2010). The investigation was designed to determine the optimum balance between parent and teacher involvement in early childhood education (Wanat, 2010). After collecting information from 17 parents using semi-structured interviews, Wanat (2010) determined that 72% of the respondents held positive views regarding collaboration and 28% held negative views. This qualitative study showed that those who held positive views regarding collaboration significantly contributed to policy development in their children’s schools. Comparatively, those who held negative views regarding the practice preferred to support their children’s educational progress at home, rather than in the school setting (Wanat, 2010).

Studies on Inclusion

The concept of inclusion is premised on the belief, which is supported by research, that integrating children with special needs into the general education system is beneficial for all. Such integration could happen by categorizing children as collaborators even as young as the early childhood education. For example, one study authored by Dovigo (2016) explored collaboration between teachers and children as an effective tool for creating synchronized roles in both groups. The technique examined by Dovigo (2016) focused on developing both social and cognitive abilities as these are the skills required to create common ground for launching collaborative early learning. Dovigo (2016) also suggested that the discursive paradigm has been used to elevate argumentation as a tool for collaboration and problem solving between children and their instructors. These findings were developed after adopting a sociocultural approach to comparing conversations between teachers, children with disabilities, and the typical peers of children with disabilities (Dovigo, 2016). The findings were reached after analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data (Dovigo, 2016). Using this methodology, Dovigo (2016) established that argumentation is an effective way for cultivating shared and critical thinking values to promote teacher support. Here, children’s roles as collaborators is emphasized by their need to exhibit appropriate behavior in the inclusive learning environment. At the same time, children are the biggest beneficiaries of collaboration as they are exposed to a constant supportive learning environment at home and school. Therefore, collaboration creates a reliable environment for learning what is good for their growth and development.

Families have also been thrust to the forefront of inclusive learning since children typically look to their parents for support and guidance. Due to this, many educational stakeholders in the inclusive learning setting collaborate with family members to improve educational standards. The role of families in collaboration is supported by the fact that their involvement may lead to an increased motivation in children to participate in inclusive learning. These issues were partly explored in a Saudi Arabian qualitative study conducted by Hamdan and Alghamdi (2014), which examined the influence of culture on the perspectives of educators toward inclusivity in the pedagogical setting. This study highlighted the need to focus on knowledge as opposed to resources when forging relationships between parents and teachers. The research informants were seven teachers working in multicultural cities (Hamdan & Alghamdi, 2014). Using interviews to gather the respondent’s views, the researchers reported favorable perceptions of collaboration among the respondents. However, the teachers expressed concern about how much parents valued their input in fostering the educational development of their children (Hamdan & Alghamdi, 2014). Similarly, teachers expressed concern about children being unwilling to collaborate with teachers in the inclusive learning environment. For instance, one respondent said, “In Saudi Arabia, students do not have the hard-work default thinking, so other forms of motivation need to be identified, such as anchoring theory to dreams and ambition” (Hamdan & Alghamdi, 2014, p. 212). Although this study evaluated collaboration in the pedagogical learning environment, it is important to point out that the research was centered on the higher education setting in Saudi Arabia, rather than that of early childhood.

The role of administrators in implementing inclusivity has also been explored in some studies, such as that of Alothman (2014), which investigated the views of Saudi parents, school principals, and teachers toward collaboration in early childhood development. Alothman (2014) reported that 71% of teachers and parents held positive views about inclusion, but received little support from school principals in forging partnerships among team members (Alothman, 2014). To demonstrate this lack of support, one of the respondents interviewed in the study said, “During assemblies, the school principal moves within the rows among non-deaf students without considering deaf students who are placed in a side row” (Alothman, 2014, p. 162). Data was collected using qualitative research method and the participants were three school principals, 15 parents who had deaf children and 20 teachers. Based on these findings, the researcher suggested the need to develop a symbiotic relationship between teachers, parents, and principals to improve collaboration in the inclusive learning environment (Alothman, 2014). It is essential to note that this study analyzed the views of education stakeholders toward collaboration as a strategy for promoting the inclusion of deaf children in the general education setting (Alothman, 2014). This doctoral dissertation is among the few Saudi-based studies using a qualitative interpretive paradigm with a view to understanding how teachers, professionals, and parents support inclusive education (Alothman, 2014).

Mereoiu, Bland, Dobbins, and Niemeyer (2015) explored issues and concerns relating to inclusion. The sample population was comprised of parents who had children with autism spectrum disorders. Conducted in a northern county in the southeastern United States, the investigation collected research data from a select group of 22 parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (Mereoiu, Bland, Dobbins, & Niemeyer, 2015). During the study, the parents discussed the nature of family relationships and concerns surrounding the kind of education their children receive (Mereoiu et al., 2015). A majority of the parents (66%) said that their main concern was access to quality education services for their children (Mereoiu et al., 2015). They were also concerned about the emotional and social support their children receive in the inclusive setting (Mereoiu et al., 2015). Nonetheless, the parents held positive views regarding collaboration as seen from the positive sentiments they conveyed regarding their children. For example, one of the respondents said:

Our kids are difficult sometimes to handle, and unless you have someone who is willing to see past the differences and see how wonderful they really are, you know, I mean I can understand you might be a little daunted, but they’re really great kids. (Mereoiu et al., 2015, p. 210)

In a study to explore the views of adolescent mothers with children who had been diagnosed with disabilities and developmental delays, Thompson and Bruns (2013) highlighted access issues in early intervention services as the biggest concern of parents regarding the inclusive learning environment. In the study, parents were recruited from two unnamed midwestern and southwestern U.S. states. Using a qualitative research approach, Thompson and Bruns (2013) interviewed 28 respondents; the majority of the respondents (about 56%) held positive views about inclusive education and the role that collaboration plays in making it work (Thompson & Bruns, 2013). At the same time, these parents stated they appreciated the provision of regular updates in early intervention services as a positive characteristic. Relative to this statement, one of the respondents said:

What they (the twins) do, and what they have gotten them to say. They tell us in the report, and that is what is helpful. I mean they do that every week. Once a week they write the report. That is really helpful. (Thompson & Bruns, 2013, p. 23)

The provision of physical learning resources, such as books, is also another useful contribution of families and parents in the inclusive learning setting because some schools require parents to provide learning materials to their children. In this regard, collaboration between family members and teachers not only creates cordiality between both parties but also improves the functionality of the inclusive learning setting. Since most parents understand the strengths and weaknesses of their children better than their teachers can, collaborating with educators means that they can transfer this vital information to the teachers.

Leadership has also been highlighted as an important tool for supporting inclusive education. For example, Burton (2015) took a keen interest in understanding teachers’ views regarding collaboration and its effects on their preparedness to implement inclusive education. Burton (2015) collected data through focus group discussions, questionnaires, observation, and interviews by sampling the views of 22 teachers working in a rural elementary school in South Carolina (Burton, 2015). The study found that effective collaboration in the inclusive learning environment could only happen if stakeholders hold shared beliefs and values through proper leadership (Burton, 2015). The researchers also said that teacher efficacy and interdependence had to be maintained (Burton, 2015). Lastly, the researcher highlighted the importance of school leadership in making sure collaboration in the inclusive learning environment is implemented with high levels of efficacy (Burton, 2015).

The importance of leadership in inclusive education is also supported by a research study authored by Halttunen (2016), which investigated the role of leadership in improving the level of collaboration in daycare settings. Halttunen (2016) conducted the study on how collaboration works with 50 teachers in two U.S. daycare centers. The researcher found that daycare settings with distributed leadership structures reported interactive and collaborative relationships between teachers and parents (Halttunen, 2016). Broadly, the vibrancy of interaction was attributed to a shared attitude toward collaboration among team members (Halttunen, 2016). Relative to this assertion, one respondent said, “So it began with the idea that we are a team or two teams. We have to make the best of the situation and the director will visit us every now and then” (Halttunen, 2016, p. 11).

A study by Blue-Banning, Turnbull, and Pereira (2000) proposed that group action planning could provide families with the support they need to participate in inclusive education. The researchers developed this finding after sampling the views of 38 Hispanic parents of children with various disabilities in a focus group setting (Blue-Banning, Turnbull, & Pereira, 2000). This qualitative investigation also integrated the views of 22 professionals who provided social support to parents who wanted to collaborate with teachers in the provision of quality education services (Blue-Banning et al., 2000).

The role of leadership in fostering inclusive education is highlighted by Blue-Banning, Summers, Frankland, Lord-Nelson, and Beegle (2004) who argued that partnerships between teachers and parents are often unsuccessful because of the failure to understand key tenets of interpersonal relationships and their effects on early childhood education. This study involved 33 focus group discussions and 32 interviews using a qualitative research method (Blue-Banning et al., 2004). The focus groups were comprised of family members of children with disabilities, school administrators, and service providers (Blue-Banning et al., 2004). Comparatively, the 33 interviews were conducted with parents who did not speak English and their service providers (Blue-Banning et al., 2004). Collectively, the important role that interpersonal factors play in the development of parent-teacher relationships emphasizes the need to provide proper leadership to harness the contribution of each member of the educational team in early childhood education.

Studies on Perceptions of Parents of Young Children with Disabilities Regarding Inclusivity and Collaboration

Many research studies have analyzed the views of educational stakeholders toward collaboration by investigating parents’ perspectives on the practice. For example, in a study employing survey method, Rafferty and Griffin (2005) found that most parents they examined held favorable views toward collaboration. This research involved 237 parents and 118 providers regarding collaboration in the inclusive learning environment (Rafferty & Griffin, 2005). The mean of the findings supporting this position was 3.9 with a standard of deviation of 0.5 (Rafferty & Griffin, 2005).

A US-based qualitative study by Popa, Gliga, and Michel (2012) also found positive attitudes in parents towards collaboration in early childhood development. This finding was developed after gathering the views of 100 respondents who were parents of children with disabilities (Popa, Gliga, & Michel, 2012). Data was gathered through interview questions that were adapted by Popa et al. (2012) from the early intervention parenting self-efficacy scale.

Although the above findings largely indicate positive views of parents toward collaboration, Summers, Hoffman, Marquis, Turnbull, and Poston (2005) found that the attitudes of parents toward collaboration may vary based on the age of their children. In their study involving 147 parents regarding 18 indicators of parent-teacher relationship, Summers et al. (2005) evaluated the views of the parents towards collaboration using the Family-Professional Partnership Scale, which was developed by a multi-disciplinary research and training institute, known as the Beach Center for Disability. Summers et al. (2005) reported significant differences in satisfaction levels among the parents of the children aged between 0-3 years, 3-5 years, and 6-12 years. The mean importance rating for all the 18 items assessed on the scale was 4.49 (SD =0.53) (Summers, Hoffman, Marquis, Turnbull, & Poston, 2005). The findings suggested that low levels of satisfaction with collaboration were mostly reported among parents of older children with disabilities (Summers et al., 2005).

The views of parents towards collaboration in Saudi Arabia share close similarities with those of parents in Qatar studied by Al-Hadad (2010), who investigated how inclusive education goals are being met in that country. The Qatar–based study is included in this review because Saudi Arabia and Qatar share similar education systems, culture, and language (Al-Hadad, 2010; Alothman, 2014). Although Saudi-based study by Alothman (2014) showed that parents and teachers have positive views toward collaboration, the Qatar-based research found that the goals of teacher-parent collaboration are not being met in Qatar (Al-Hadad, 2010). This finding was developed after Al-Hadad (2010) investigated two key issues relating to the development of parent-teacher relationships in early childhood education. The first one was family outcomes and the second was family-professional relationships. In both the family outcomes and family-professional relationships, Al-Hadad (2010) sought to understand how collaboration between teachers and parents affected the quality of educational services in early childhood education. The methodology chosen by the researcher was based on a mixed methods approach. Using a population sample of 127 participants, the researcher reported statistically significant differences in levels of satisfaction among family members, teachers, and directors of early intervention services centers (Al-Hadad, 2010).

Another Qatar-based study aimed at investigating parents’ perceptions toward collaboration with school administrators pointed out the need for follow-up throughout all stages a child’s education to improve communication among stakeholders (Khalifa, Khalil, & AlKhamra, 2017). Khalifa, Khalil, and AlKhamra (2017) also contend that educators should be cognizant of the effects of curriculum design on education quality. Khalifa et al. (2017) collected data using interviews and surveys. They obtained the perspectives of 163 parents of children with disabilities and assessed their perceptions of collaboration in six domains: equality, communication, professional competence, advocacy, commitment, respect, and trust. Trust had the smallest mean (M = 2.7991; SD = 0.73), while the highest was attributed to communication (M = 3.2561; SD = 0.497) (Khalifa et al., 2017). These statistics mean that the respondents considered trust as more important than communication when developing collaborative relationships.

A Kuwait-based study investigated parental participation and the barriers to it in in the delivery of early intervention services for deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) children in Kuwait, another country which shares several traits with Saudi Arabia such as the Arabic language and culture, which is why AlRashidi’s (2018) research is included in this review. AlRashidi (2018) investigated parents’ collaboration based on three variables: (a) level of education, (b) economic level, and (c) severity of disability in the child (hard of hearing or deaf). AlRashidi (2018) employed a 53-item questionnaire to measure parents’ (n = 97) perceptions. The results showed a high level of parental collaboration in early intervention services such as agreeing on referrals, taking part in continuous assessment, and participating in the individualized family service program (IFSP) and the individualized education program (IEP). However, parents reported low levels of participation in the initial assessment of their children (AlRashidi, 2018). Also, the findings showed there were no differences related to socio-economic status or severity of disability. The result showed significant differences regarding the independent variable of parents’ level education: specifically, parents with higher education achievements exhibited better collaboration in general (AlRashidi, 2018).

Despite the existence of a consensus regarding the positive views families have towards collaboration, some U.S. studies have pointed out that some parents do not feel appreciated when participating in inclusive programs. For example, in a study that employed qualitative research method, Griffin (2014) conducted in-depth interviews with eight elementary school principals, three teachers, three parents, and one assistant principal, and found that parents were concerned about the nature of inclusive education. One of the respondents said, “It’s just frustrating as a parent that in the education system they cannot really make recommendations or, you know, a teacher can’t say, “Hey, I see this going on with your kid” (Griffin, 2014, p. 84). Such sentiments show that some parents are dissatisfied with how collaboration is implemented in their children’s schools.

Studies that have registered low levels of enthusiasm for parental involvement in collaboration and inclusive education report that negative views about collaboration arise from a poor understanding of the concept (Hilado, Kallemeyn, & Phillips, 2013). For example, in a qualitative study, Hilado et al. (2013) contended that parents who have flexible definitions of collaboration tend to have a more favorable view of it compared to those who do not share the same flexibility. This study was based in the state of Illinois-based study, and involved interviews with 10 public school administrators on their views regarding collaboration and the perceptions of parents regarding the same concept (Hilado et al., 2013).

A study by Cameron (2017) sought to explore the perceptions of parents and teachers towards collaboration in early childhood education, specifically focusing on bullying as a behavioral challenge in the inclusive learning environment. Using a mixed methods research approach, this study reported that parents and teachers held favorable views regarding collaboration; and, Cameron (2017) found that teachers were skeptical about the integration of parents in the inclusive learning environment. Cameron (2017) also pointed out that teachers and parents agreed on the types of strategies that should be employed in the inclusive learning environment, but held different opinions about the intensity with which they should be implemented. This study involved sampling the views of 141 parents and 81 pre-school teachers (Cameron, 2017).

A study by Schultz, Able, Sreckovic, and White (2016) also investigated the views of parents and teachers towards collaboration and their roles in improving the quality of education services offered to children with autism. To find out the importance of positive parent-professional collaboration, the researchers sampled the views of 34 teachers using a qualitative approach (Schultz, Abe, Sreckovic, & White, 2016). This study used focused group discussions and interviews and found that some parents had a difficult time collaborating with professionals because they were struggling with the guilt of having children with autism (Schultz et al., 2016). One limitation of the study is the lack of diversity in the respondents’ characteristics (Schultz et al., 2016). Therefore, it is difficult to generalize the findings across other demographics that do not share the same characteristics.

Herrington (2014) conducted a study to investigate the perceptions of parents regarding childhood education programs for children who had and did not have disabilities. Key issues that were investigated in the study included parental acceptance of their children’s disability, family preferences regarding the education programs their children should participate in, and the types of disability the children had (Herrington, 2014). The study was undertaken in a daycare setting and the researchers sampled the views of 56 parents (Herrington, 2014). Most of them (58%) held favorable views about collaboration (M = 3.33; SD = 0.743) (Herrington, 2014).

Alnajim (2017) investigated parents’ satisfaction with special education services provided to their children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in elementary schools with inclusion programs in Saudi Arabia. This study is included in this review because investigations of Saudi parents’ perceptions are very limited and there are none that took place in the early childhood setting. Alnajim (2017) used a questionnaire to collect the perceptions of parents (n = 257) in five cities in Saudi Arabia. The independent variables for this study were gender, academic qualifications, and monthly income. The parents expressing overall satisfaction with the inclusivity of the programs for their children was 3.7 out of 5. Additionally, no significant differences were found regarding gender (p value = 0.05) and monthly income related to parents’ satisfaction (p value = 0.053). However, parents with a high level of education, such as at least a college diploma, had more positive attitudes towered the inclusivity of their children’s programs compared to those of parents with lesser education (e.g., high school diploma). The findings of this study are to be used to improve the number of inclusive programs for children with ADHD (Alnajim, 2017).

One study pointed out that collaboration in early childhood education need not only occur between families and teachers but also between teachers and therapists. Hong and Shaffer (2015) authored a study that found that the transfer of professional skills between therapists and educators was pivotal to promoting best practices in early childhood education. Hong and Shaffer (2015) expanded the scope of study of collaboration in the inclusive learning environment to not only investigate how families, students, and educators can collaborate, to include how professionals from different fields could work together to improve the quality of educational services offered to children with special needs. Hong and Shaffer (2015) utilized a qualitative assessment of the views of 10 early childhood educators and four healthcare therapists (Hong & Shaffer, 2015).

A study by Vlasova, Hujalab, Essaryc, and Lenskaya (2016) investigated the perceptions of teachers and parents about collaboration in early child intervention for children aged 3-5 years. This study found that economic, resource, and value limitations could affect the quality of collaborative practices that teachers and other stakeholders engage in the inclusive learning environment (Vlasova, Hujalab, Essaryc, & Lenskaya, 2016). Vlasova et al. (2016) employed qualitative research method to gather the views of eight teachers and six parents from Virginia and New York, following a protracted investigation of the views of teachers and parents regarding the needs of children in early childhood education between 1999 and 2011 (Vlasova et al., 2016). Some of the needs identified were affection and security. Relative to this assertion, one of the respondents said the most important need for children was, “Being loved and feeling that they are important as individuals. They need to feel safe and secure” (Vlasova et al., 2016, p. 208).

In a study to investigate the features of successful collaboration between teachers and parents in the inclusive learning setting, Cameron and Tveit (2017) found that effective collaboration between the parties was contingent upon understanding internal and external features of collaboration. Internal factors refer to personal issues, such as trust and commitment, which may affect how teachers and parents think of collaboration (Cameron & Tveit, 2017). Comparatively, external factors refer to issues that are out of their sphere of control, such as availability of learning resources, but that still affect their perceptions of collaboration (Cameron & Tveit, 2017). This study was developed using a qualitative research approach and involved gathering the perceptions of 30 parents and teachers about collaboration through case study approach. The respondents were asked to give their views about collaboration in the educational development of six children ranging from 3-5 years in the United States (Cameron & Tveit, 2017).

A qualitative method study undertaken by Hansuvadha (2009) also evaluated the role of collaboration between teachers and parents and found that issues relating to under-preparation of teachers, attitudinal barriers, cultural differences, and language barriers impeded collaboration between the parties. These findings were developed using interview for data collection and involved 11 graduate teachers from three unnamed states in the United States.

A different study conducted by Collier, Keefe, and Hirrel (2015) highlighted the importance of building collaborative frameworks for integrating teacher and parent input into early childhood education (Collier et al., 2015). The quantitative study investigated how the two groups collaborated through a program called Families of Faculty. The researchers acquired data by using a survey to obtain the views of 23 teachers and found that the Families of Faculty program gave teachers an opportunity to develop an understanding and empathy for parents of children with disabilities (Collier et al., 2015). They found that such an understanding fostered collaboration between parents and teachers.

Similarly, Brotherson et al. (2010) argued that the emotional connection between teachers and parents was important to assessing the quality of relationships that could be forged between the two groups. Using a qualitative research approach, the researchers investigated how well the emotional needs of parents were met during home visits (Brotherson et al., 2010). After collecting data from 17 parents using interviews, the researchers found that three types of emotion influence parent-teacher relationships: (a) hope for the educational development of the child, (b) the perceived sense of urgency to provide intervention, and, (c) the dominant feeling about what needs to be done to support early childhood education (Brotherson et al., 2010). Broadly, Brotherson et al. (2010) demonstrated that the quality of relationships between teachers and parents was contingent on the degree of emotional attachment between the parties.

A study by Nitecki (2015) sought to explore how parents and teachers can develop meaningful relationships to promote the education standards of preschool children and found three attributes are integral to the development of meaningful parent-teacher relationships. These include: (a) the creation of a multidimensional relationship, (b) a welcoming environment, and (c) the improvement of parents’ understanding of the school environment (Nitecki, 2015). This research employed an inductive qualitative approach to sample the views of 13 parents and six teachers through interviews (Nitecki, 2015).

A study conducted by Kruse (2012) sought to investigate how families with students who have intellectual limitations in learning experience collaboration with the teachers of their children. Using qualitative technique, Kruse (2012) found that a culture of collaboration was critical to parenting a child with disabilities. The researcher gathered data using interviews and observation (Kruse, 2012). The main limitation of this study, as stated by the author, was that the researcher was a parent of a child with a disability, which could indicate bias regarding the findings (Kruse, 2012). Nonetheless, Kruse’s investigation draws attention to the effects of social and political structures of human relationships on the quality or extent of collaboration between teachers and parents.

Using qualitative grounded theory, Badiee, Plano Clark, and Kirkland (2016) also investigated how parents collaborate with teachers in early childhood development. They analyzed how both parties collaborated in a Head Start program in Nebraska (Badiee, Plano Clark, & Kirkland, 2016). This investigation found that collaboration should focus on four key issues. The first two of these include initiating pre-partnership procedures and building relationships, while the last two involve developing consensus on how to organize partnership agreements between teachers and parents (Badiee et al., 2016). Data was gathered through interviewing eight participants: four Head Start directors, one program coordinator, one superintendent, one education and disability specialist, and one principal. Another finding that emerged from the investigation was related to the availability of different partnership models for fostering parent/ teacher collaboration. For example, one of the respondents said, “The way I understand it is that Head Start can have different kinds of membership or partnerships. For example, make it do the preschool or have the preschool in the facility oversee it” (Badiee et al., 2016, p. 15). This statement highlights the need to provide different kinds of models of partnership for successful collaboration.

In a doctoral dissertation that investigated how electronic communication can be used to enhance collaborative networks between teachers and parents in Saudi Arabia, Dubis (2015) found that using emails in collaboration increased family involvement in collaborative partnerships. Dubis (2015) also found that emails decreased gender barriers in communication, which stem from deeply rooted cultural beliefs in the Saudi Society about segregation, which has also affected the ability of children with disabilities to learn in inclusive settings. For example, since Saudi culture restricts male and female direct interaction, email communication helps to bridge the gap in communication, for instance between fathers and female teachers of their daughters or between mothers and male teachers of their sons. Here, the role of technology in minimizing cultural barriers is emphasized. Although this study investigated collaboration in special education, it was not specifically focused on early childhood development. The researcher interviewed three special education teachers and five parents of children with disabilities for this study (Dubis, 2015). Their views were obtained using semi-structured interviews and a review of electronic communications between teachers and parents (Dubis, 2015).

Although the above-mentioned study implies a need to understand the impacts of culture in parent-teacher collaboration, a study by Brunton (2016) suggested that cultural differences between different sets of collaborators provided teachers with the opportunity to learn and share responsibility with parents in the inclusive learning environment. At the same time, Brunton (2016) recommended that educators be introspective about their teaching methods. Brunton’s (2016) study utilized qualitative method and included interviews with seven teachers and five parents.

Broadly, these studies show that different stakeholders have diverse views of collaboration and inclusion. However, most research demonstrated that teachers and parents have positive views of collaboration and inclusion. From this analysis, inclusive education is contingent on the development of collaborative partnerships between families, students, and teachers. All must make sure that their contributions provides a seamless environment in which children with special needs may live and learn.

Summary

The findings highlighted in this section show that many researchers have investigated the role of collaboration and inclusivity in improving educational outcomes for children with special needs. Throughout this literature review, the focus of the investigation was on understanding what other researchers have written about collaboration in early childhood programs. The review was centered on analyzing U.S.- and Saudi-based empirical studies. In sum, 45 studies were located. Only five of these were based in Saudi Arabia, and none of these were focused on the early childhood education setting. Two studies were based in Qatar and one study was based in Kuwait. The justification for including these studies in this investigation was the similarities in culture these countries share with Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, 38 studies were based in the United States, two of which were doctoral dissertations. The common methodology adopted for the majority of the studies (n = 23) was qualitative research, while quantitative investigations were adopted in 22 of the studies. It is not surprising that qualitative research was used as examining perceptions and attitudes is inherently a subjective process.

Since most of the empirical investigations reviewed in this study were based in the United States, while we were able to learn what factors influence collaboration in the inclusive learning environment, we do not know the experiences and perceptions of services and the role of collaboration in early childhood education of parents in Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the literature is almost silent on how parents or families in Saudi Arabia perceive collaboration in the inclusive learning setting or how Saudi Arabian culture influences the quality of partnerships in early childhood education. Particularly, this literature review identified a gap in the research as no Saudi-based studies investigating the perceptions of family members regarding collaboration in early childhood special education for children from birth to six years were found. Consequently, there is a clear gap in literature, which is centered on understanding how parents in Saudi Arabia view the practice.

Although Saudi Arabia has been credited for making significant gains in promoting collaboration and inclusivity, more needs to be done to further inclusion efforts and to support collaboration in the country’s educational system. This finding justifies the proposed study because there are concerns about the effects of segregation on the educational progress of children with disabilities in Saudi Arabia. Such concerns could be partly rooted in the perceptions of families towards collaboration. Additionally, these concerns underscore the rationale for reviewing the role of families towards collaborating with other stakeholders in early childhood development. Therefore, the research gap that emerges from this review stems from the lack of Saudi-based studies regarding parents’ perceptions of collaboration. Stated differently, most researchers have investigated people’s views regarding collaboration and inclusion from a western perspective and using participants in western schools. The proposed research seeks to fill this gap by investigating families’ perceptions of collaboration in early childhood development in Saudi Arabia.

Research Gap

Given the increased attention early education experts have given to collaboration in the inclusive learning environment, it is important to investigate this matter from the Middle Eastern perspective. As noted in the conclusion of the response to Question 2, a research gap exists due to the failure of existing research to investigate the effects of cultural, social, and legislative factors on parents’ perceptions of collaboration in early childhood special education in Saudi Arabia. In fact, there is no a single research study based on Saudi Arabia that investigated families’ perceptions of collaboration in early childhood. To fill this gap, the current study proposes to investigate families’ perceptions of collaboration in early childhood development in Saudi Arabia. The proposed research methodology will be discussed below.

Research Method

The mixed methods approach will be used for the proposed study. Mixed methods design is defined as, “Research in which the investigator collects and analyzes data, integrates the findings, and draws inferences using both qualitative and quantitative approaches or methods in a single study or a program of inquiry” (Tashakkori & Creswell, 2007, p. 4). This technique involves the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods in the research (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003). Mixed methods research is considered a “third major research paradigm” (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004, p. 23), or the “third methodological movement” (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2011, p. 285). This approach will be employed in the proposed study because the researcher intends to use multiple data collection methods (quantitative and qualitative) to answer the research questions optimally and to “investigate a phenomenon of interest” (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2011, p. 286). Additionally, this method choice aligns with the nature of the research topic because “collaboration” cannot be contextualized as solely a qualitative or quantitative issue. Therefore, the mixed methods approach allows for the comprehensive analysis of the research topic (Watkins & Gioia, 2015). Moreover, the research questions that will guide the study investigation require a broad understanding of collaboration and a deeper interpretation of family views on the same. The mixed methods research approach allows for this kind of depth investigation and for breadth in data analysis (Bergman, 2008).

Strengths and Weaknesses of Mixed Methods Research

Strengths

The mixed methods research approach has unique strengths and weaknesses. One of its greatest strengths is its association with the collection of holistic data since it incorporates both qualitative and quantitative information (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). At the same time, the mixed methods approach provides the researcher with an in-depth understanding of the research issues discussed (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). These advantages could be easily observed through the corroboration of qualitative and quantitative findings within the broader integrated framework. Another strength associated with this technique is its ability to use one technique to overcome the weaknesses of another (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). For example, the strengths of the quantitative technique might be used to overcome the weaknesses of the qualitative method. This benefit is often realized through triangulation because the mixed methods approach allows the researcher to collect data from multiple streams and to integrate the contents using the triangulation method (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). This way, the findings developed have greater depth and quality.

Weaknesses

Although the mixed methods approach offers unique advantages to researchers in terms of data collection and analysis, critics say it is difficult to implement in academic or professional fields because some researchers are only familiar with the use of one or the other methods (Bazeley, 2017; Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). This limitation may create issues with the process of choosing the right type of design because some researchers may not have a multilayered understanding of how to analyze their data. In addition, the mixed methods technique is difficult to implement because of its time-consuming nature (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). Indeed, it involves multiple streams of data collection. Furthermore, the use of both qualitative and quantitative data means that more time is spent in data analysis, compared to a situation where only either qualitative or quantitative information is sought. It is also difficult to plan and implement one method of data collection based on the findings of another because of the complexity of developing an integrated research framework that creates synergy between both types of data (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). Lastly, it may be difficult to resolve discrepancies that emerge from the integration of both qualitative and quantitative data. Cognizant of the above-mentioned strengths and weaknesses of the mixed methods approach, a list of the qualitative and quantitative questions that will be answered using the mixed methods approach appear below.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

Quantitative Questions

  1. What are Saudi Arabian parents’ current perceptions of collaboration with professionals at different stages of early intervention?
  2. What are the potential barriers to Saudi Arabian parents collaborating in the delivery of early intervention services?
  3. Are there significant differences in Saudi Arabian parents’ perceptions of collaboration across demographic variables (e.g., gender, family income, severity of child’s disability, and family’s level of educational achievement)?

Qualitative Questions

  1. What are the perceptions of Saudi Arabian parents regarding collaboration with professionals?
  2. What factors promote parents’ collaboration with professionals in early intervention services in Saudi Arabia?
  3. What factors hinder parents’ collaboration with professionals in early intervention services in Saudi Arabia?

Research Hypotheses

  • H1. Families have a favorable view towards collaboration in early childhood development in Saudi Arabia.
  • H2. Cultural barriers are the greatest deterrents to the development of positive attitudes towards collaboration in early childhood development in Saudi Arabia.
  • H3. There are significant differences in the level of support for collaboration in early childhood development in Saudi Arabia, based on demographic differences.

Research Design and Rationale

Research Design

The mixed methods research approach ordinarily takes the shape of the mono-strand or multi-strand design (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2006). The mono-strand technique has been extensively used in either qualitative or quantitative research, without “mixing” the two. Multi-strand design is considered more complex than mono-strand design because it analyzes at least two research types, such as quantitative and quantitative (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2006). In this framework, the integration of qualitative and quantitative research design could happen at any stage of the research process. There are five key types of multi-strand design, which Teddlie and Tashakkori (2009) refer to as the “five families;” these techniques include parallel, sequential, conversion, multilevel, and fully integrated.

Parallel mixed designs

Parallel research designs are those that have interconnected strands of research (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). Typically, one of the strands could employ qualitative data collection and analysis techniques, while the other could employ quantitative techniques. In this framework, researchers could collect data simultaneously or after a specified time. Data analysis often occurs independently in the sense that each strand is analyzed differently (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). Usually, inferences made from the collection and analysis of data from each strand are made and collated in meta-inference analyses at the end of a report (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). Based on the merits of this research design, researchers who want to answer exploratory questions prefer to use the parallel method (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). At the same time, researchers who want to answer confirmatory questions may also use this technique.

Conversion mixed design

The conversion mixed design is often used when researchers mix qualitative and quantitative approaches throughout all stages of the research process (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). In other words, data is transformed and analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. In this design, one type of data is often gathered, transformed, and reviewed using the other methodological approach (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). For example, if quantitative data are collected as the first type of data, they will be transformed into qualitative metrics and analyzed. Conversely, if qualitative views are collected as the first type of data, they will be transformed into quantitative information and analyzed.

Multilevel mixed design

As its name suggests, multilevel mixed design occurs by analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data at different stages of research. The information obtained from both sets of data is ordinarily used to answer aspects of the same question. Therefore, the goal is usually to obtain different perspectives of analysis (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009).

Fully integrated mixed design

The fully integrated mixed design takes advantage of the merits of both sequential and parallel designs in the sense that both qualitative and quantitative data are analyzed interactively (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). In other words, the process is dynamic, reciprocal, and iterative. At each stage of analysis, information analyzed from one type of data could have an impact on another type. This effect is achieved because information from one type of data (either qualitative or quantitative) is mixed at all stages of the research process.

Sequential mixed design

Sequential mixed designs often integrate two chronologically occurring strands of data (Bickman & Rog, 2009). The occurrence could happen in the form of qualitative-to-quantitative or quantitative-to-qualitative reviews. The inferences or conclusions derived from an analysis of the first strand of data collection are often used to form an analysis of the second strand of data collection (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). Stated differently, information obtained from the first strand of data analysis may be used to formulate, collect, or analyze data for other parts of the investigation. Therefore, the final inferences drawn from the study are products of an analysis of both the first and second strands of investigation. Within this framework of analysis, the second phase of analysis is often used to confirm or refute the inferences drawn from the first phase.

Rationale

The sequential mixed technique has been selected for use in the proposed study. To recap, this technique often integrates two chronologically occurring strands of data. The occurrence could happen in the form of qualitative-to-quantitative or quantitative-to-qualitative review; the second form that will be used in this study is quantitative-to-qualitative (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011; Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). In the proposed study, the sequential explanatory design, which involves the collection of quantitative data, will be employed for the first phase of data collection; this will then be followed by the collection of qualitative data using ____ design (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011; Creswell, Plano Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson 2003). The generation of quantitative data will later be used to undertake a qualitative interview that will expand the extent of the information analyzed. Therefore, the main motivation for employing sequential explanatory mixed methods design is to use qualitative data to explain quantitative findings. The main objective of using sequential explanatory design is to use analyzed qualitative data to explain and provide an interpretation of the results of the initially collected quantitative data The mixing occurs across chronological phases (Creswell, Plano Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson 2003).

Sequential explanatory mixed technique has several advantages. One is its effectiveness in creating a “feeling for the whole” because it involves the completion of successive passes of data collection in a non-linear manner (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). This way, it is possible for a researcher to develop subtle shades of meaning for the research questions after analyzing both sets of data (qualitative and quantitative). This technique also gives researchers an opportunity to pull together divergent information and to switch perspectives to get a broader understanding of the research issue (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). In addition, the qualitative data collection that follows can be used to examine these unexpected quantitative data in more detail with more explanation (Creswell, Plano Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson, 2003). The paramount advantage of using this design, the qualitative result is given the priority in this design, meaning the quantitative phase of the study may be used to identify the characters of the participants to answer the research questions. Then, the analyzed quantitative data can then be used to guide the purposeful sampling of participants for the qualitative phase (Creswell, Plano Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson, 2003).

Figure 1 below describes how this technique will be applied in the proposed study. Also, Figure 2 outlines the sequential explanatory design with more detail under an expanded typology for mixed methods (Creswell, Plano Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson, 2003).

Figure 1 . Model for Qualitative and Quantitative Data Collection

A mixed methods approach to technology acceptance research. Journal of the Association for Information Systems,
Figure 1: Wu, P. (2012). A mixed methods approach to technology acceptance research. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 13(3), 172-187.

Figure 2. Sequential Explanatory Design Model

Creswell, Plano Clark
Figure 2: Creswell, Plano Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson, 2003, p. 167.

Data Collection Method

Creswell and Plano Clark (2011) outlined the process of data collection in five steps, which include: (a) using sampling procedures; (b) obtaining permissions; (c) collecting information; (d) recording the data; and, (e) administering the procedures (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). As mentioned, data will be collected using a mixed methods approach. To be specific, the sequential explanatory mixed methods design will be used in this study, which allows for the collection of quantitative data in the first phase followed by the collection of qualitative data in the second phase. Quantitative data will be collected as discussed below.

Quantitative Data

Quantitative data will be collected in the first phase using questionnaires that will be distributed as surveys to the respondents as the main data collection instrument. Permission will be sought before undertaking the study. The questionnaire design was adopted from a Kuwaiti study, which sought to examine parental participation and the barriers to early intervention services for deaf and hard of hearing children in Kuwait (see Appendix A). The adaptation was undertaken using the forward translation process whereby the questionnaire was adapted from the respondents’ first language (L1) into their native language (L2) (Hesse-Bibe, 2010). There will be a second phase of backward translation, which will happen after the approval of the final questionnaire. It will involve the translation of the survey instrument from English to Arabic as described by Hesse-Biber (2010). The translation processes will be done in consultation with an authorized translation service in Saudi Arabia. The main strength of backward translation is to standardize the responses with the preferred data analysis techniques (Hesse-Biber, 2010). For example, translating the data from Arabic into English will make it possible to use the information in the statistical software analysis process. Similarly, doing so will expand the audience of the research beyond people who can understand or read Arabic.

This survey technique is selected for use in the proposed study because it has high efficacy in gathering responses from a large participant pool (Bickman & Rog, 2009). For instance, an Internet survey will be used, which means the participants will respond over the Web (Bickman & Rog, 2009). Participants will be asked to respond to a series of questions, which will be measured using a 5-point Likert scale. This type of scale is defined by Bernard (2011) as an ordinal psychometric tool for assessing people’s attitudes towards specific research issues. Therefore, respondents will have either to agree or disagree to a set of statements, using multiple-choice format, where they choose between “strongly agree,” agree,” “are neutral,” disagree,” or “strongly disagree,” with the research statements.

The 5-point Likert scale is a useful tool for gathering respondents’ views because it standardizes them, thereby making it easier to analyze the data (Bernard, 2011). Additionally, the standardization of views into five key criteria is helpful to the researcher because statistical software will be used for purposes of data analysis. The 5-point Likert scale will support the integration of respondents’ views into the statistical software by making them into quantifiable assessment units. In other words, the scale allows for the statistical integration of respondents’ views into the data analysis software. The scale is also a proven technique of data collection in the social sciences and has a reputation for being a universally accepted technique of survey data collection (Pallant, 2016).

Although the 5-point Likert scale is a proven measure of assessing people’s attitudes, critics say the tool only provides an abstract understanding these responses because such views usually vary widely (Bernard, 2011). Consequently, such critics are cynical about the scale’s ability to capture such views due to its unidimensional nature (Bernard, 2011). Critics of the 5-point Likert scale also say it may be difficult for participants to respond accurately to research questions because some statements may be worded negatively, thereby requiring them to reverse their thinking before answering (Bernard, 2011). Within the wider context of developing surveys, researchers also point out the difficulty in balancing the need to make respondents’ understand the questions without deviating from the focus of the study (Bernard, 2011; Fowler, 2013).

Qualitative Data

Qualitative information will be collected in the second phase of the research using interviews as the data collection technique. This process will only involve a selection of the participants who took part in the first phase of the investigation in order to more deeply explain the findings of the first stage of the investigation. The aim of these interviews is to investigate Saudi parents’ perceptions toward collaboration with professionals during the provision of early intervention services. The interviews will be conducted via telephone or online communication platforms, such as Goggle Hangouts and Facetime; the time limit for the interviews will be 20-30 min. The qualitative method to be used for this phase will be semi-structured interview to allow the researcher to give the interview subjects the opportunity to deviate from the specific question based on the flow of the conversation. However, these discourses will be limited to a selected number of themes that the researcher will seek to further investigate in the second phase of data collection. Therefore, the interview questions that will be posed to the respondents will be identified before the interview begins and will be approved by the university’s academic advisory committee. Since the sample population will be comprised of Saudis only, the interview will be conducted in Arabic and will be recorded on an iPad or iPhone for the purposes of data analysis. There will also be backup copies of the interview made using either the researcher’s recorded notes, in the form of either physical or electronic backups.

This interview technique is selected for the current study because it allows the researcher to gather information in greater depth than quantitative data collection techniques allow (Tracy, 2012). It will also help the researcher to understand the major themes regarding collaboration in the inclusive learning environment that will emerge from the study, thereby adding a human dimension to the statistical data that will be generated in the first phase of data collection (Tracy, 2012).

One of the limitations of using interviews is the difficulty associated with arranging face-to-face meetings between the interviewer and the respondents (Tracy, 2012). Scheduling concerns and geographical distances have been highlighted as being the greatest impediments to the use of such a technique (Tracy, 2012). To overcome the geographical barrier, the researcher will talk with the respondents via telephone. Another limitation of interview is the cost of making calls because the researcher will cover these items out-of-pocket.

Sample Population

For the first phase of the investigation (quantitative analysis), research participants will be recruited from families that have children with disabilities. They will be supplied with the questionnaire that will be uploaded to WSU Qualtrics (web-based questionnaire-type survey) as a survey. Links to the survey will be shared with selected early childhood education centers in Saudi Arabia. The same link will be shared to several accounts that focus on early childhood education via Twitter® and Facebook®. Parents will be given first priority to participate as informants in the research. There will be no gender bias when recruiting subjects and either fathers or mothers may act as informants. In cases where the parents are unavailable, a guardian might be allowed to be included in the study as a replacement. The parents (or guardians) must have children with disabilities who are enrolled in at least one Saudi early education center to participate in the study.

The second phase of data collection will be centered on the qualitative investigation. Here, the researcher intends to interview six to eight participants. This number is considered appropriate for qualitative studies, as noted by Teddlie and Tashakkori (2009) who said that the ideal number of participants is between six and ten. Consent will be obtained from the respondents before they take part in the second phase of the investigation and their contact information will be recorded after they have signed the informed consent form. This will ensure that their participation in the study is voluntary; furthermore, all participants will be told that they may withdraw from the study at any time and need not provide any reason for their decision. Lastly, the information offered by the respondents will be kept confidential, their identities will not be disclosed or shared.

Sampling Method

The researcher will recruit participants by contacting administrators of early intervention centers in major cities of Saudi Arabia, such as Jeddah, Dammam, and Riyadh. The sample size will be determined using G*Power statistical software, which aligns with several computational techniques, such as ANOVA (UCLA Statistical Consulting Group, 2018). Participants will be recruited from the above-mentioned cities as these urban centers are known for having essential early intervention services that provide such things as language skills and occupational therapy. These cities are also selectively chosen to be sampling centers because they are diverse and geographically dispersed. Therefore, one assumption of the study is that the families that will be contacted in these cities will largely represent the diversity of Saudi Arabia.

Random sampling method will be used to recruit participants for both the qualitative and quantitative phases of data collection. Teddlie and Tashakkori (2009) define this technique as the selection of a small number of people from a larger population. Here, each member of the target population has an equal chance of participating in the study. One advantage associated with random sampling is its associated ease of implementation and its relatively high levels of accuracy in gathering the views of a large sample of people (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). The degree of fairness in recruiting participants is another strength associated with random sampling technique as it minimizes the possibility of bias.

As Hair (2015) stated, this approach carries the greatest potential for representing the views of a larger population of respondents. This understanding is applicable to the research investigation because the focus is on understanding family views regarding collaboration in early childhood development in Saudi Arabia. Since this topic implies a national focus, random sampling technique is best suited to generalize the findings of a selected sample to the larger population of Saudi citizens.

Some of the limitations of using random sampling technique are its high costs and time-consuming nature (Hair, 2015). Some studies also associate it with sampling bias, especially if the sampled population is not large enough to represent the views of a larger demographic of people (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). For example, the use of telephones to gather respondents’ views could create this type of bias because it means that family views regarding collaboration in Saudi Arabia will only be collected from families that have a telephone connection or that are available to participate in the interviews by telephone. To overcome this bias, the researcher will strive to gather responses from many informants, subject to budget and time constraints.

Data Analysis Methods

Creswell and Plano Clark (2011) outlined the five steps of data analysis procedure for quantitative and qualitative research to follow when using mixed methods design, which are: (a) preparing the data for analysis; (b) exploring the data; (c) analyzing the data; (d) representing the data analysis; and (e) interpreting and validating the results (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). Data analysis in mixed methods research is achieved by “examining the data base to address the research questions or hypotheses” (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011, p. 207). The data analysis procedure in mixed methods design starts with the analysis of quantitative data and qualitative data using their exclusive data analysis techniques. After quantitative and qualitative data have been analyzed separately, the respective techniques of mixed methods research analysis will be utilized. As highlighted above, the proposed study will include the collection of quantitative research data before the collection of the qualitative data. Each phase of investigation will have its own unique data analysis technique.

First Phase: Quantitative Investigation

Quantitative information will be analyzed using the Statistical Packages for the Social Sciences (SPSS) technique. One-way ANOVA will be used to test the relationship between variables. Tolmie, Muijs, and McAteer (2011) defined one-way ANOVA as a statistical omnibus test that investigates significant differences between variables. The one-way ANOVA method is often used in situations where researchers want to investigate differences between the means of multiple groups of independent variables (Tolmie, Muijs, & McAteer, 2011). The one–way ANOVA is used to investigate the differences between three or more groups (Lomax & Hahs-Vaughn, 2012). The technique will be used to understand differences in means and standards of deviation in the quantitative investigation, which includes variables that have been categorized into five themes (see Appendix A). Therefore, the ANOVA method is selected for its capability for analyzing data that has been collected using the 5-point Likert scale (Tolmie et al., 2011). Generally, using SPSS technique will help in presenting quantitative data visually, through the use of graphs, charts, and histograms, as well as identifying and calculating means, and/or correlations between the participating groups and the variables that were studied (Brace, Snelgar, & Kemp, 2012; Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009).

Second Phase: Qualitative Investigation

As noted, the qualitative investigation will happen during the second part of the analysis. Data that will be obtained during this stage of the research will be analyzed using the narrative method. In other words, the researcher will listen to the interviews and transcribe their main points. These points will later be organized as themes and analyzed through thematic content analysis, which is defined by Seale (2004) as a technique for analyzing thematic patterns that emerge in research investigations. The technique involves six key steps, which include: (a) familiarization of the data, (b) coding (labelling the text), (c) searching for themes within broader patterns of meaning, (d) theme reviews, (e) naming themes, and (f) the write-up (Seale, 2004).

At the end of the investigation, a meta-inference analysis will be undertaken, specifically to integrate both the qualitative and quantitative responses to form a coherent interpretation of the findings. The meta-inference will also provide an integrative framework for merging the quantitative and qualitative findings. The main motivation for undertaking the analysis is to distinguish between inference and data quality (Brace et al., 2012). Inference quality refers to the process of making sense of the respondents’ views in the context of the research questions; data quality refers to attributes of the methods used to make sense of the data collected (Brace et al., 2012).

Validity of the Study

Taylor (2013) stated that the validity of a research instrument is defined by assessing whether it measures what is required. There are three main types of validity in research – internal, external, and social (Taylor, 2013). Internal validity strives to assess whether differences in finding are only caused by the independent variables and not by other factors. Comparatively, external validity refers to the extent that a study’s findings can be generalized to other populations (Taylor, 2013). The external validity of the findings will be safeguarded by the use of random sampling technique, which provides the most accurate representation of a population (Taylor, 2013). The internal validity of the findings will be safeguarded by a pilot study, which will be conducted to assess how well the research instruments align with Saudi cultural values and whether it is clear in its use of Arabic as a main language. The main purpose of conducting a pilot study is to obtain feedback on any problematic areas such as unclear or inappropriate statements. At the same time, the researcher will consult his academic advisor to make sure the research will measure what it is intended to measure. At each of these stages of assessment, the researcher will have an opportunity to modify data collection instruments and develop initial thoughts about the second phase of the investigation, which is the qualitative study. The internal and external validities will further improve the social validity of the research investigation by making it relevant to the sample population. Generally, the adoption of these techniques provides a succinct approach to addressing the research topic, which is centered on investigating the perceptions of Saudi families towards collaboration.

Reliability of Instruments

The reliability of instruments used to collect the data will be checked using stability and internal consistency tests. The analysis for stability method will involve testing and retesting the data collection instruments during the pilot study to make sure that if the tests are undertaken after some time, they will give similar results (Tolmie et al., 2011). Moreover, the internal consistency of the research instruments will be assessed by making sure that all the statements posed to the respondents measure the same construct – collaboration in early childhood education (Tolmie et al., 2011). Finally, definitions of the main constructs will be provided in the research instruments to make sure all participants understand the constructs and the research direction.

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Appendix A

Name (optional):

Primary information for parents:

  1. Gender:
    • Male
    • Female
  2. Educational level
    • Elementary
    • Secondary/high school
    • Higher education
    • Graduate education
  3. Economic level in Saudi Ryals
    • Less than 5000
    • 5001- 10000
    • 10001-15000
    • More than 15000
  4. Child’s Disability Type
    • Hearing
    • Intellectual
    • Visual
    • Other
  5. Degree of Severity of Child’s Disability
    • Mild
    • Moderate
    • Severe
  6. Type of Early Intervention Center
    • Governmental Early Intervention Center
    • Private Early Intervention Center

Approve for Referral

Responses for the following questions: 1= strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4= agree, or 5 = strongly agree. Please circle the number of the response you choose.

  1. I have enough information on how to transfer my child according to his/her needs to the appropriate centers and agencies.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  2. I agree, in writing, to refer my child to the authorized center to carry out the initial evaluation.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  3. I cooperate with specialists by providing the information that is necessary regarding the child to meet his/her needs.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  4. I receive written notice of any actions proposed by the team of specialists and the appropriate bodies
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  5. I participate in decision-making with specialists on referrals for my child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree

Initial Evaluation

  1. I am a member of the multidisciplinary team that makes the initial assessment of my child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  2. I participate in the initial assessment process and provide the necessary information about the child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  3. I am involved in the development of the evaluation plan for my child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  4. I am familiar with the activities and methods of the initial evaluation for my child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  5. I can request other related support services for the disability that I suspect is affecting my child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  6. I join professionals in reviewing my child’s evaluation results when they complete the initial evaluation process.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree

Participating in IEP/IFSP

  1. I receive a written letter advising me of the availability of early intervention services for my child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  2. I am a member of the IEP Team/IFSP team.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  3. I participate with specialists in reviewing educational programs every six months.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  4. I communicate with specialists and provide information on my child’s development at home.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  5. I participate in planning and setting annual goals and objectives.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  6. I review weekly reports on the progress and development of my child’s abilities.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  7. I participate in some of the classroom activities provided to the child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  8. I am involved in some extracurricular activities, such as field trips.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  9. I participate in training sessions for my child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  10. I have attended some training sessions on how to deal with my child and how to develop his/her skills.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  11. I train my child at home in the skills required for his/ her development in early intervention.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  12. I am informed of the meeting times with the team for my child’s IEP /IFSP.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  13. I attend the meetings on the IEP/ IFSP at the early childhood centers.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  14. I attend training courses conducted by the Early Intervention Center for Parent Training.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  15. I ensure that my child attends the treatment and training program sessions at early intervention centers.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree

Attending Meetings and Communication with Specialists

  1. There is respect between parents and specialists through positive communication
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  2. The specialists at the centers for early intervention make frequent home visits.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree

Assessing the Services and Offering Feedback

  1. I review what has been accomplished on the annual and short-term goals in the IEP/IFSP
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  2. I receive a formal form for the re-evaluation of my child.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  3. My child is re-evaluated every year to determine if my child is still eligible to receive early intervention services.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree
  4. I participate in the evaluation of the services provided for my child at early intervention centers through a questionnaire that measures the quality of services and their effectiveness in improving my child’s condition.
    • 1 = strongly disagree
    • 2 = disagree
    • 3 = neutral
    • 4 = agree
    • 5 = strongly agree

Hinderances to Family Collaboration

Factors Related to the Family

Parents have lack information about early intervention services,

  1. Parents are not interested to attending meetings and training courses done at the centers.
  2. Parents lack sufficient time to train the child at home.
  3. Parents feel difficulty or anxiety about disclosing information about their child.
  4. Parents face financial issues regarding being able to obtain sufficient services to their child,
  5. Parents have low annual income.
  6. Parents have a low level of education.
  7. Parents have negative attitudes about specialists’ level of preparation and ability to implement early intervention services.
  8. There is a lack of cooperation on the part of parents with specialists at the center.
  9. The distance from the parents’ house and the center is an issue.

Administrative Factors

  1. Lack of a multidisciplinary team at the early intervention centers.
  2. Lack of cooperation between specialists on the IEP/IFSP.
  3. Specialists lack the level of training required to implement early intervention services successfully.
  4. Specialists have a negative perception toward parental participation in early intervention services.
  5. Failure of specialists at centers for doing frequent home visits.
  6. Lack of training and courses for parents on raising awareness about disabilities.
  7. Absence of legislation and regulation requiring parents to participate in delivering early intervention practices.
  8. Lack of sign language interpreters at early intervention centers to ease communication.
  9. Too few specialists at centers.
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