WASHINGTON, DC -- Autism Speaks, the nation's leading autism science and advocacy organization, today applauded Congressmen Jim Moran (VA-8) and Michael Doyle (PA-14) for introducing the AUTISM Educators Act to improve training for teachers who work with students on the autism spectrum.
The bill (HR.5195) would pilot a five-year grant program for public schools to partner with university or non-profit programs in creating training programs for teachers who work with large numbers of high-functioning students with autism. The training programs would incorporate parental involvement and retention of skilled educators.
The bill, called the Autism Understanding and Training in School Methodologies for Educators Act of 2012, states that classroom, teachers and staff “often are not adequately trained to work effectively with students with autism spectrum disorders, who have a wide diversity of characteristics.” The bill also noted the additional challenges faced by members of the military and foreign service due to frequent moves which disrupt the continuity of their children’s education.
"This legislation is the product of a grassroots effort by parents, instructors, school officials and caring communities," said Moran. "Autism Spectrum Disorders are being diagnosed at an exploding rate. We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to provide the best education for our children."
The bill has been referred to the House Education and Workforce Committee.
“Improved training for teachers and school districts is an important component of mainstreaming children with autism into their educational environment,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “Better access to behavioral therapy in conjunction with autism-friendly educational settings are key to successful mainstreaming.”
Doyle said, “It's essential that educators are able to take advantage of our rapidly growing knowledge base - and that we increase the number of teachers trained to help autistic students. It's one of a number of actions the federal government should take to help individuals with autism and their families.”