Autism Educators Act of 2012By Butterfly Effects Editorial Staff | 05/06/2012 |
Getting Children with Autism the Education They Need, May Require an Act of Congress
On April 27th, Democratic Representative
James Moran introduced H.R. 5195, the Autism
Understanding and Training in School Methodologies for Educators Act of 2012, The act is designed to train teachers how to best handle the educational needs of children with Autism who are being assimilated into their classrooms. Many parents and educators feel it is long overdue; other citizens argue that we can't afford it.
IDEA 2004 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) assured that children with
Autism should have the opportunity to learn in the least restrictive
environment. However in the years since, we have come to understand that this
least restrictive environment is not necessarily prepared to teach them.
In 2004, there was an assumption that teachers in mainstream classrooms would get the training they needed to understand and accommodate children with Autism. With rare exception, this training piece never happened.
Teachers have largely been left to their own devices when it
comes to working with children with Autism. And as the numbers of diagnosed
students increase, so does the challenge to classroom teachers.
Arlington County, Virginia has seen the Autism population in their schools grow from 100 in 2003 to more than 350 this year.
With no end in sight to this growth, and already floundering in their efforts to meet demand, the Arlington School Board, along with the local Special Education Parent Teacher Association, requested the help of Congress.
Listening to the needs of his constituents, Democratic Representative James Moran gathered information, took in expert advice, and developed H.R. 5195. the Autism Understanding and Training in School Methodologies for Educators Act of 2012. known also as the Autism Educators Act.
Introducing the bill on April 27th, Representative Moran stated that:
"Unfortunately due to the rapid
growth in ASD, many teachers have not had the opportunity to receive training
in communicating with autistic children. Teachers want this training. And the
AUTISM Educators Act will facilitate and implement qualified training programs
in school settings.
"There is a large demand for this legislation. I know this because the issue first came to me from families in my district who desperately need the public education system to work better for their children's special needs. These committed parents know that communications skills are paramount in working with children on the spectrum. The AUTISM Educators Act establishes a demonstration grant . . . to develop and implement a program to deliver in-service training to practicing teachers."
It remains to be seen, whether the bill receives bipartisan support in the contentious and excessively partisan House of Representatives, or simply ends up as one more discarded showpiece designed to pander to local constituent concerns. At present, the bill is being cosponsored by only one other representative, Michael Doyle (D PA). In the Congressional Record, introduction of the bill was line listed among 66 pieces of special interest legislation introduced that day. No dollar figure has been attached to the bill yet, but fiscal conservatives are already saying it is not affordable.
For H.R. 5195 to move forward will require a nationwide grassroots effort that parallels and magnifies the one that prompted action in Arlington County.
The bill creates a five-year grant program to train general-education classroom teachers on the best ways to identify and interact with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The grants proposed in the Moran bill would be targeted at school systems with high Autism rates. The bill focuses on students with Asperger’s and High Functioning Autism who can be more readily placed in mainstream classrooms. It would require that a granted school system partner with a university or nonprofit group to develop the training program.
Contact your U.S Congressional Representative.
Whether you call, write to, or email your representative. remember to mention the bill by name and number. If you have a personal story, share it in your correspondence.
Encourage your Rep to move to the front of the class and request to cosponsor
Make him or her understand that you look at Autism as a defining and pivotal issue, and as it touches nearly everyone (no one is more than one degree of separation removed from a family raising a child with Autism), it can no longer be regarded as a special interest cause. Make it clear that no is not an option.
or her know that you believe it is time to take a stand on Autism; that you
understand that Autism has become a childhood epidemic with numbers that dwarf
the occurrence of polio at its pre-serum worst.
Express that you understand the fiscal climate of restraint now prevailing in Washington, but also know that that in the long run, this bill will save great expense and that it will help keep countless lives of great potential from being needlessly squandered.
across the nation can locate email addresses, phone numbers, etc, for their House Representatives by way of this link.
You may also want to drop a note to Rep Moran and Rep Doyle to applaud and further encourage their effort.
From Butterfly Effects: A Suggested Revision to Assure Practical Excellence and Efficiency
Those who write may want to suggest that the bill should not limit the
service demonstration school partners to universities and nonprofits.
As it is, ABA trained behavior consultants are in great demand and the very best ones are working out in the field, usually for private providers. In this emerging field, those interested in promoting the best practices will gain the most practical information from practicing professionals. For example, we at Butterfly Effects have a long and deep network of professionals on board. We work at and with schools on an ongoing basis. We've trained school staff individually and continually train people how to work with children with Autism.
For us, it’s not a question
of developing a program but rather refining the one that we been using and and revising over the last several years!.
To pass up on the practical expertise of private providers will waste time and resources. Wheels will end up being unnecessarily reinvented, unsuccessful approaches will be wastefully repeated. Butterfly Effects has been involved in the Autism Service Demonstration for TRICARE Insurance for Military families, which has now incorporated the demonstrated autism services for children as standard policy.
We can tell you what teachers, tutors, and parents need to know
While children with Autism differ greatly from one to the next, some things hold constant and there is an approach that works from child to child because it is designed to assess and focus on each child's personality and his or specific need. . . . read about Applied Behavior Analysis at Butterfly Effects.
For any teacher to deal with those issues, they must have either a
wealth of experience or have studied Applied Behavior Analysis based
intervention, the only treatment approved for Autism treatment by the
FDA, the Surgeon General, the Institutes of Health, and the Centers for
Disease Control among others.
To be successful working with children with ASD requires that teachers learn about social skill deficits and how they can help students learn appropriate behaviors. They must learn how to foster effective communication skills essential to developing the sort of human connections that make up a real life. They must learn to be careful with their comments, become more observant; and improved listeners. They must learn to track a behavior back to the function it serves. . . . read about Functional Behavior Assessment, the one tool that all teachers need to understand the reasons behind a behavior.
They must learn about sensory issues, motor skill challenges and
problems with processing. They must learn about obsessive behavor and
be ever watchful for bullying and depression. They must understand how
to gain trust an develop working partnership with the children they
teach. ... read some helpful hints for teachers, tutors, and parents involved with teaching children with ASD.
The school years provide critical opportunities for children with Autism that can't be duplicated.
The mainstream classroom offers a secure and protected microcosm where children can practice and perfect their life and social skills as well as their academic ones. . . . read about the Butterfly Effects approach to the classroom teaching of children with Autism.
Children with Autism can possess a number of issues beyond cognitive capacity that can derail their academic success.
They will likely have communication issues, sensory complications, motor skill challenges, and social skill deficits.. . . read about the various challenges mainstream teachers face when students with Autism are enrolled.
it's our belief that the education system continues to let down many students and their families. We don't think it is because of the teachers. We have met very few who are not capable of providing the attention that children with Autism require. We just need to better train them so they are more able.to be the leading agents in our battle to meet the challenge of Autism.
We know that it is a waste to throw soldiers or peace keepers or nation builders into the field with no training at all. So why do we think it's okay to treat our most vulnerable population with indifference when we should be offering nothing less than our best effort.
Give us a call today if you are:
- A parent concerned about the education your child is receiving,
- A school system, teacher, or tutor looking to improve your methods for teaching children with Autism
- A teacher, tutor, or parent, concerned with a child's behavior
You don't need a referral to call us, just a need for answers.