Friday, August 29, 2008

Autism In New Brunswick Schools - The Globe & Mail Gets It Wrong

In Ontario parents continue battle for accessible autism therapies the Globe & Mail reports on documents submitted to the Supreme Court of Canada by families involved in a class action lawsuit who are arguing for access to ABA and IBI therapies for their children in public-school classrooms. In comparing the situation in Ontario to British Columbia and New Brunswick schools the Globe & Mail stated, incorrectly with regard to New Brunswick, that:

In British Columbia and New Brunswick, funding is available for children with autism to bring support workers specially trained in IBI and ABA therapy into public-school classrooms. In Ontario, the government will only pay for teacher's aides, and IBI and ABA therapists are not allowed in the classroom.

In New Brunswick we do have ABA instruction, for autistic children, in our schools but it is not provided by therapists brought in to the school. What we have done in New Brunswick is provide autism intervention training to teacher aides/assistants. The training is provided at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training Program. The TA's receive essentially the same training as provided by UNB-CEL to pre school Autism Support Workers. The TA's must meet UNB's entrance criteria to enter the program and must pass both academic and practicum components of the course - which not all of them do. Resource teachers have also been trained as Clinical Supervisors.

Apart from the TA training, New Brunswick has accommodated the needs of those autistic children like my son who require a quieter setting outside the regular classroom to learn. My son receives his ABA based instruction in a small room with his TA. He goes to the school gym and pool and outdoors for physical activity, to the school library, and to a kitchen to learn some kitchen skills. Conor also helps with tasks at the school such as lowering the flag. Other children see him in the common areas mentioned and in the hallways and some say hello to him by name as I walk with him in the halls to take him home at the end of the day. Some autistic children do well in the regular classroom and their aides are permitted in the classroom.

The Autism Society New Brunswick lobbied hard for autism specific training for aides working with autistic children. ASNB also fought hard to move away from a philosophy based total classroom inclusion for all approach to an evidence based approach which focuses on teaching autistic children where, and how, they learn best, an approach that looks at the needs and abilities of the individual child.

This is how ABA is used to teach autistic children in New Brunswick schools.

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