A model of teacher support for children with autism: ...

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Title A model of teacher support for children with autism: a Prince Edward Island story
Author(s) Vianne Timmons, Marlene Breitenbach
Date 2004
Volume 44
Issue 1
Start page 52
End page 53
Abstract This continuum or autism spectrum includes children with 'classic' autism, who demonstrate impairment in social interaction and communication as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour. PDD-NOS is a term used for children who have a milder form of autism and may share some but not all of the identifying features. Children with Asperger's Syndrome have disabilities in the area of social interaction and stereotypical behaviour patterns, but do not have clinically significant delays in language development or delays in cognitive development. In 2001, the Department of Education created a position for an autism consultant to provide direction and coordination of service for children with autism. Prior to this, there was no targeted training for teachers who were educating children with autism in their classrooms. The new autism consultant provided training and individual student consults during the first year and further assessed the needs of teachers across the province. Fisher, Frey and Thousand have observed that successful teachers 'are masters of collaboration and skillful negotiators.'(5) Under their mentor's guidance, the teacher leaders collaborate on cases, share experiences, learn together as a team, and provide support and follow-up with classroom teachers and schools throughout the year. Beginning in September 2003, the first three autism teacher leaders returned to their respective school boards as autism consultants and are able to provide support while they continue their course work and mentoring. This year, three additional teachers have begun the program. By September 2004, these teachers will also be available to the system as autism consultants. This process will result in a cohort of seven well-trained professionals in a three-year period and has already begun to significantly increase the ability of our schools to educate students with autism more effectively. The autism teacher leaders and consultants work closely with the school based support teams in the design of interventions for children with autism. Lutzker and Campbell noted 'There should be confidence that the staff delivering any service has had a theoretical background strongly reinforced with 'hands on' training and frequent direct and indirect supervision'. The direct support, modeling, case analysis, and on-the-job support have been well received by both the teachers in training and the schools.

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