Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New Brunswick School District 17 Autism Update - Much More Must Be Done

New Brunswick School District 17 has received an update on its existing program for teaching children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The items focused on in the press release are certainly positive developments but they have been in place for some time now and are really only a small first step. The teachers aides who actually deliver the programs and work directly with autistic students require training at the UNB-CEL, and the Resource Teachers who supervise and assist with plan development on a regular basis also require training. That was the idea behind the commitment from Liberal leader Shawn Graham, now Premier Graham, during the recent election campaign to train 100 TA's and Resource Teachers per year in New Brunswick for the next four years. District 17 should be applauded for following up on its existing program but much work remains to be done and Premier Graham's training commitment must be followed through if this generation of New Brunswick autisic students are to receive a real education.

School autism plan enhanced


Published Wednesday January 24th, 2007
Appeared on page A2

District 17 Education Council says it's pleased with the progress of its new programs and teaching methods for children with autism spectrum disorders.

The council received a update on its service-delivery model at a DEC meeting Tuesday.

"Before this year, we had resource teachers who worked with a huge variety of children, and they were stretched very thin," said Supt. Marilyn Ball.

"The Department of Education partnered with UNB to develop a training program for staff members and from that it became clear we needed to put a program in place specifically for autistic children."

The district has since added three resource teachers for autism who are trained solely to work with autistic children. They travel between all the school in the district, working with teacher assistants and resource teachers to ensure all autistic children are getting the best education possible.

Their goal is to develop programming specific to each individual child since the symptoms and difficulties of autism can have a wide range.

Sandra Bulmer was one of the first to receive the training that is offered by the University of New Brunswick and paid for by the department.

She now works as one of the psychologists for the district.

She said they've surveyed schools and written files on each child that has been diagnosed as autistic.

From that, the resource teachers have identified the specific needs of each of the 48 children.

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