How often do you hear the statement, “my child is not advancing, his bad behavior is increased, he is depressed, he has self-inflicted injuries now”, and the list can go on and on. Is this because our autistic children are being cared for by a teacher who is not qualified to teach special education? Not so!
Please know that most of our special education teachers across the United States are loving and highly educated to tackle this very hard task. There is only one little component missing … they not really prepared for caring for and teaching autistic kids. They are wonderful at combating all other issues but somehow the system forgot, or neglected, to prepare them for this booming pandemic of AUTISM. I personally know some teachers who took it upon themselves, taking out loans to further their education specializing in Autism. Fortunately there are some states who took initiatives to create a program and give grants for special education and regular teachers to specialize in teaching of autistic children.
In 2001, the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) is pleased to announce it has awarded grants to 17 New York State colleges and universities to develop and deliver courses in autism. The goals of this initiative are:
- to ensure that teacher and paraprofessional preparation programs throughout New York State include courses specific to the education of students with autism (preservice preparation programs); and
- to ensure that courses are available to currently certified teachers, related service providers and paraprofessionals who are working with students with autism in this State on a non-matriculated basis (inservice training).
- to read more about this program click here
Unfortunately this practice is not so wide-spread though, and our autistic children are suffering from it. I know it first hand how my son was affected by this problem. His first teacher at public school specialized in caring for and teaching autistic children. Ms. Pryce had a hugely positive impact on Amin , and he was like a shooting star, sometimes advanced daily in some areas. Then Ms. Kim took over his class and he continued to advance steadily, and he was a very happy, well-balanced student.
The following year he got a special education teacher, whom I think was a very well-educated teacher with great skills, but not so familiar with autistic kids. This switch resulted in my son to regress to the point that I had to pull him out from his school. The school he is going to now gave him an ABA therapist to teach him. Just the past month, they switched him to a special education teacher, Ms. Julie.
To be honest I was very upset and scared about it. Ms. Julie is a special education teacher, and specializes in caring for and teaching autistic children. She is incredible in teaching Amin, and he loves her very much. We all love her. Now, since most of his behavioral issues are under control for the time-being, academics became a priority, and that is why the principal made this change.
I firmly believe that the majority of teachers are wonderful, and that they sincerely want to help our special children, but the lack of experience and training with autistic children shows otherwise. We need to stop being quick to judge them, instead we need to be more firm, demanding from our government that they create more programs for teachers to further their education, so they may take care of our autistic children in the best of ways. I think most of the finger-pointing should be at school boards and state officials who overlooked this pressing issue long enough. It is time to act to make a difference. This article below is another proof that we must be more proactive at solving this problem.
Teachers Unprepared for kids with autism
Dec. 24, 2010, Our View
From Tennessee Opinion community Conversation At Tennessee.com
BY TED RAYBURN, FOR THE EDITORIAL BOARD
The understanding of autism spectrum disorders can’t catch up fast enough with the numbers of children diagnosed nationwide and in Tennessee.
In particular, there is a learning gap for public schoolteachers in this state who work with kids with autism every day, according to a recent study. And while it is understandable that the state’s education system, fraught with challenges that range from expanding pre-kindergarten access to lowering the high school dropout rate, improving test scores and college preparedness, has a lot on its plate, it is also the case that inattention to autism disorders could be detrimental to the system’s broader goals.
The sooner this issue is addressed, the better, for as Nicolette Bainbridge Brigham, with Vanderbilt University’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders, told The Tennessean recently: “It’s a complex disorder and requires certain interventions, and if personnel haven’t been trained … it can be very challenging.”
Since the disorders associated with autism vary greatly and from person to person, teachers need to know how to interact with children who react adversely to being in close proximity to others, who are sensitive to light or are prone to outbursts.
At one time, only a small number of students either possessed autism spectrum disorders or were diagnosed as such. But that has changed. Between 2001 and 2007, the number of Tennessee public school children diagnosed with autism rose from 1,293 to 4,019. Nationally, cases of autism increased by 57 percent over roughly the same period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Metro Nashville Public Schools alone, more than 465 of the 9,000 students now in the exceptional education program have autism. Again, not so many students among the 9,000 in the program, not to mention the 70,000 students overall — but consider that, with little or no teacher training in these disorders, a fraction of the student population can loom large when it comes to keeping the overall classroom focused on its work.
In Metro and most other Tennessee school systems, kids with autism are in the mainstream classes — and that is how it should be, despite the concerns over distractions and disruptions. In past decades, this state tried keeping kids with learning exceptions and disabilities apart from everyone else, and it stigmatized those children and magnified their problems; not to mention the negative effect that sequestering exceptional children had on the societal attitudes of students in the mainstream.
There’s a danger of that trend recurring — in some states, children with disabilities are given vouchers to attend private schools where educators have specialized training. That is not the solution, and certainly not in Tennessee, which needs to lift up its public school standards, not relinquish them to others.
In Metro, there is a team of autism experts who will give teachers who request it a three-day training program, but it’s time for MNPS and the state to look at required training and the funding to go with it.
Scientists still do not know the cause or causes of autism, but they do know that one in 110 children are diagnosed with the nervous-system disorders. Schools must keep up with the children themselves, as they do with the problems that any child in their charge may encounter.