In 2000, only one in 150 children were diagnosed with autism. By 2010, that number had nearly doubled. Today, about 15 percent of children have the developmental disorder, and some experts anticipate the rate to continue to increase. Today’s educators must be ready and able to educate the rapidly growing number of students with autism. Relying on appropriate interventions and working in teams can help students with autism to achieve in school.
Teachers must be equipped to help all students learn.
Autism affects individuals differently, leading them to respond to learning in different ways. Teachers at all levels must know how to approach the design of effective learning strategies, including how to address behavioral needs. It’s also important to capitalize on students’ unique strengths to maximize their connections to and engagement in learning.
Education – whether through undergraduate, graduate, or certificate programs, can help the next generation of teachers be better able to educate these students. Most aspiring general education teachers take one or two courses in special education, which may not be sufficient for supporting students with disabilities like autism.
As more students with autism enter the school system, more teachers with the skillset for educating those students will be needed. The University of Kansas Department of Special Education has offered an internationally prominent specialization program in autism/autism spectrum disorders since the late 1970’s.
Teachers should learn about inclusive classrooms.
Educational professionals have spent decades researching effective ways to build inclusive classrooms that meet the educational needs of students, while minimizing disruptive behaviors. This is an important skill set for all teachers to learn in their professional education programs, given the increasing numbers of students with autism who participate for at least a portion of the day in general education classrooms. Look for teacher education programs that include coursework on universal designs for learning, and strategies for teaching diverse learners. .
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Data & Statistics. Retrieved on May 1, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html.
Harrower, Joshua K. and Glen Dunlap. 2001. Including Children With Autism in General Education Classrooms: A Review of Effective Strategies. Behavior Modification, 25:762-784. Retrieved on May 1, 2015, from http://www.sagepub.com/kwilliamsstudy/articles/Harrower.pdf.
Simpson, R., & Crutchfield, S. (2013). Effective educational practices for children and youth with autism spectrum disorders: Issues, recommendations for improving outcomes, and future trends. In B. Cook, M. Tankersley & T. Landrum (Eds.), Advances in learning and behavioral disabilities (pp. 197-220). San Diego, CA: Emerald.
Simpson, R., Mundschenk, N., & Heflin, J. (2011). Issues, policies and recommendations for improving the education of learners with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 22(1), 3-17.