Autism Reality

Good News from Ontario on Autism & Education – ABA in Ontario Schools



Good news for autistic students in Ontario. The government of Ontario is directing ALL school boards to provide Applied Behaviour Analysis to all students with autism.

TORONTO, May 17 /CNW/ – The McGuinty government is improving the learning environment for students with autism spectrum disorders by directing all school boards to provide Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced today.

“All students with autism deserve equal access to this vital teaching
approach that can improve their focus on individual projects and strengthen
their communication with other students in the classroom,” said Wynne.
“We are implementing our plan to ensure students with autism receive the
best education possible.”

The Ministry of Education instructed school boards today that they must
provide programs that use ABA methods to students who need it. This
directive is part of the government’s response to the recommendations of
Autism Reference Group report, Making a Difference for Students with
Autism Spectrum Disorders in Ontario Schools: From Evidence to Action,
received earlier this year.

The implementation of ABA will be supported by extensive staff training
starting with six to eight representatives, including superintendents,
principals, teachers, teaching assistants, school support staff and Special
Education Advisory Committee members, from each school board over the
next two months. This will be followed by school team training – funded
through a $1-million investment – for up to 1,400 principals, educational
assistants and teachers over the summer months.

Additionally, the government has provided a grant of $2.75 million to
the Geneva Centre for Autism. “We are very grateful for the government’s
support so we can provide further training on ABA approaches to school
staff in the fall,” said Margaret Whelan, Executive Director of the Geneva
Centre for Autism. “This investment will allow educators to help more
students with autism succeed.”

Advertisements

May 17, 2007 Posted by | aba, Applied Behavior Analysis, autism disorder, autism education, Dalton McGuinty, Liberal Party, Ontario, schools | 3 Comments

Inclusion Dogma Seductive but Harmful for Some Autistic Students


UK MP Lee Scott has criticized the UK government for placing politically correct inclusion dogma ahead of the needs of autistic school children. While inclusion sounds good it hasn’t always helped some autistic school children or their classmates.

“Autism needs debated at Westminster

By Sam Adams

A REDBRIDGE MP has criticised the Government for putting political correctness’ before the needs of autistic children.

Lee Scott, MP for Ilford North, secured a special parliamentary debate at Westminster last week, calling for the creation of more special schools, three of which currently exist in Redbridge.

The MP believes the Government’s focus on educational inclusiveness’ has left many youngsters with the condition struggling in mainstream schools when they would develop more effectively in special schools.

He said: “The dogmatic approach of placing all pupils with special needs in mainstream schools has frequently benefited neither them or the children whom they are educated alongside.

“Many of us have at some time been seduced by the theory of inclusion which seems so nice and reasonable and politically correct, but there is clear evidence that it does not work for every autistic child.“

The MP criticised the Government for closing down some special schools, and claimed many mainstream schools are unable to provide the learning support needed by autistic youngsters.

He said: “We have seen seven per cent of special schools closed down since 1997 and in a recent report 44 per cent of teachers in local comprehensives admitted they weren’t confident in teaching kids with autism.”

The MP praised the work of the borough’s current special schools, Hatton School in Clayhall, Newbridge School in Ilford and New Rush Hall School, Hainault, but said provision needed to be expanded further.

Replying for the Government, the Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning Bill Rammell said: “I genuinely welcome this debate and the efforts that the hon. Member for Ilford North has made to bring these important issues to the public’s attention.”

http://tinyurl.com/2zpyse

March 16, 2007 Posted by | autism, autism education, autistic, inclusion, learning, Lee Scott, political correctness, schools, special needs | 1 Comment

Ontario Schools Ordered to Make ABA Available for Autistic Students

In Ontario all schools have been ordered to make Applied Behavior Analysis “ABA”, available for autistic students by September 2007. To date ABA is the only intervention for treating and educating autistic children which is widely endorsed as evidence based and effective. It is not clear at this time how properly trained personnel will be made available in that time span to meet the Ontario requirement but hopefully that order will be implemented properly and the province does not back off of that commitment.

In New Brunswick, after years of parent advocacy, schools have already begun providing ABA services to autistic students in a few cases and commitments to provide training to teachers aides through the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program have been made and confirmed. Parents of autistic children seeking to help their children have been misled before and will have to remain vigilant to ensure the commitments are met but the education commitments made in Ontario and New Brunswick are encouraging news for parents of autistic children in the two provinces.

TORONTO — School boards across Ontario are being served notice that they must be able to provide specialized autism treatment in classrooms, ideally by September, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said yesterday.

Currently, parents of autistic children are often forced to choose between keeping their kids at home to receive expensive Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy or taking them to school, where they don’t receive the costly special treatment.

Those days will soon be over, since the government is issuing a directive to school boards that they won’t be able to ignore, Wynne said.

“We will be making sure that it happens and we will be putting supports in place,” said Wynne, who was unable to say how much the new policy would cost.

“There are many places in the province where this is already happening, but it has to be even across the province.”

The goal is to have the treatment standardized in schools across the province in time for the next school year, although there’s no guarantee that will happen on schedule, she added.

“Will there be places where there will still be work to do? Absolutely,” Wynne said.

“I can’t say that exactly the same thing will be happening in every classroom in all of the 5,000 schools across the province on the day after Labour Day, but absolutely it’s a goal to have a uniform understanding and delivery of that approach across the province — as soon as possible.”

The government’s announcement came in response to a newly released report by a panel of stakeholders, which made 34 recommendations on how to help Ontario’s autistic schoolchildren.

Advocates said they’re thrilled the government has agreed to immediately address 23 of the 34 recommendations and also to review the rest.

Getting ABA treatment in all schools would be an amazing development, but it’s equally important the government has committed to act on so many other recommendations, which will help a wide range of kids with different issues, said Karyn Dumble of Autism Ontario.

“It’s re-enforcing what we already know, that there’s many ways to teach so that students with autism will learn and this is something that our parents across this province have been advocating for,” she said.

Some parents, however, said the plan doesn’t help their children, who are still too young to go to school and caught on long waiting lists for subsidized treatment.

Friends of Lianne Crawford, whose three-year-old son is autistic, launched the website helpjack.ca to raise money for treatment, which costs $70,000 a year. The website has raised about $15,000.

“We get no government money and we’ll never see any funding unless something changes drastically (in government policy),” Crawford said.

Prior to the government’s announcement yesterday, Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory unveiled a campaign platform for autism funding that includes $75 million a year to cut the waiting list for treatment of kids under six.

The government’s new plan does some good, but doesn’t address the waiting list, Tory said.

“I’m not saying the things the government (plans) are wrong or shouldn’t be addressed, but I’m saying I think (we’re trying) to address the really big issues.

“We are in the fourth year of this government’s mandate, with an election six months away, and the government’s making that promise again.”

Laurel Gibbons, mother of a nine-year-old son with autism, said she, too, is skeptical.

“The school boards are going to need more time than six months in order to implement such a strategy,” she said. “Where are they getting the people that are going to be trained for this? What’s the hiring process?”

http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/CityandRegion/2007/02/24/3661247-sun.html

February 24, 2007 Posted by | aba, Applied Behavior Analysis, autism disorder, autism education, Autism Society New Brunswick, Kathleen Wynne, Ontario, schools | Leave a comment

"Common Sense Prevails on Autism"

New Brunswick’s Telegraph-Journal has written an excellent editorial in which it commends the confirmation by Education Minister Lamrock that the Graham government will be training 100 TA’s and teachers per year for the next four years. The article reflects a good understanding by the Telegraph-Journal editorial writers of why this commitment is necessary. The training commitment is critically important to ensure a real education for New Brunswick students with autism. That is more than enough reason for me to feel thankful this morning. Minister Lamrock’s communication with the Autism Society New Brunswick under difficult circumstances is also a big plus.

But the Telegraph-Journal editorial is itself a reason for celebration. Over the past 7-8 years many in New Brunswick’s autism community have struggled, to provide for their children’s special needs and to obtain decent services for autistic persons of all ages. We have also sought to raise public awareness about the realities of autism. Without true public understanding and awareness of autism the specific steps taken will be undermined. The T-J article is strong evidence that the struggle to raise autism awareness in New Brunswick is succeeding.

Common sense prevails on autism

Published Monday February 12th, 2007
Appeared on page A4

The plight of New Brunswickers with autism and the difficulties encountered by their families have received a lot of ink in the Telegraph-Journal over the past decade. What was once considered an irremediable condition, which might result in institutionalization, is now known to include a broad range of symptoms; and educational techniques for reaching and teaching autistic children have become more common and more refined.

Education Minister Kelly Lamrock’s announcement that the province will train and hire 400 new resource and methods teachers to work with autistic students represents the greatest political commitment yet to dealing with the issue. The government hopes to add 100 autism resource teachers a year until the quota is filled.

Autism is one of the clearest examples of a developmental disorder that can be ameliorated through specific educational methods. But the right timing and training are crucial. As New Brunswick parents have become more aware of their autistic children’s needs, they have grown more adamant that the province take the necessary steps to ensure autistic students receive fair access to education.

Given the particular methods and expertise required to teach autistic children, it makes sense to designate a substantial number of resource teachers for this purpose. Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 166 children. Until the full complement of 400 resources teachers is reached, demand for the special instructors will likely be high.

The details of the Graham government’s five-year plan for public education will not be released until spring. But the speed with which Kelly Lamrock has committed to living up to this key campaign pledge is promising. If New Brunswick is to grow “from the worst to the first” in Canadian education, schools will need far more resources to help special needs students.

The broad outlines of Lamrock’s education strategy include “giving teachers the liberty to try innovative methods of learning” and rewarding those who are successful, and intervening earlier with special needs students and exceptional learners. The government’s autism announcement does both, and we hope it proves up to the challenge. Autistic students deserve the same opportunities to learn as their peers.

http://www.canadaeast.com/ce2/docroot/article.php?articleID=101144

February 12, 2007 Posted by | autism, autism awareness, autism education, schools, teachers, teachers aides | 2 Comments

School for Autistic Children in New York

In New York a school for autistic kids is opening. The school will feature an evidence based, ABA approach, using discrete trial training and also utilizing elements of speech language therapy, occupational and physical therapy, PECS and some elements of TEACCH. The classrooms will be adapted with special computers, monitors and programs. This school appears to be an extension of a successful pre-school program offered by the same HeartShare school. This is an amazing development that is highly unlikely to ever occur in any school district in the Province of New Brunswick.

In New Brunswick over the past 30 years the education of all children has been dominated by a philosophy that dictates mainstream classroom inclusion for all students regardless of their disabilities or abilities. There are exceptions. Some districts and schools have cooperated with parents and allowed autistic children,particularly severely autistic children such as my son, to receive the greatest part of his learning in a separate area with visits from classmates for activities such as reading buddies and with Conor visiting the mainstream classroom for specific defined activities for limited periods of time. By and large though in New Brunswick’s education system educators and parents are pressured to place all children in a mainstream classroom whether it is suitable for them or not.

At major events such as the teachers development workshop which was held to review the MacKay Inclusion review process the Department of Education partnered with the New Brunswick Association for Community Living which aggressively promotes the philosophy of mainstream classroom inclusion for all students. Requests by the Autism Society New Brunswick to participate as a partner in the workshop were rejected by the Department of Education notwithstanding the number of autistic children in New Brunswick schools and the severity of the challenges posed in educating them. The NBACL philosophy of total mainstream inclusion is also promoted by the presentation by that organization of awards to teachers who exemplify what the NBACL considers to be best inclusion practices. The mainstream classroom philosophy for all is also well represented by NBACL participation on the Premier’s Council on the Status of Disabled Persons and in the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission whose current chair, Dr. Gordon Porter, was instrumental in the implementation of the mainstream classroom for all philosophy in New Brunswick schools and is touted as an expert on the inclusion of students with a disability into regular classes on the commission web site.

With such an entrenched mindset in favor of the mainstream classroom inclusion philosophy I am thankful that school and district educators have, at least to date, cooperated with us in creating an alternative learning arrangement for my son. In the big picture though the emphasis on classroom inclusion has kept many children in the mainstream classroom even when it is not suitable for them. It also makes it extremely unlikely that an option such as a school for autistic school children will ever see the light of day in the Province of New Brunswick.

http://tinyurl.com/27g8xf

New school for autistic kids

02/01/2007

You hear it again and again—the incidence of autism is on the rise. In fact, according to the latest statistics, 1 in 166 children are diagnosed with autism and reported cases are growing at a rate of 10-17 percent each year.

With all these children needing services, HeartShare Human Services of New York is proud to be responding to the needs of the community by opening its new HeartShare School. This program is for school-age children with autism and mental retardation from all five boroughs.

Located at St. Finbar’s School, 138 Bay 20th Street in Bensonhurst, children ages 5 through 14 are eligible for services.

Scheduled to open in February, this program is unique to Brooklyn in that it will primarily follow the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) approach with the emphasis on discreet trial learning. Some components of the TEACCH methodology and Picture Exchange Communication System will also be used.

Started at the urging of parents who had gone to NY State Senator Martin Golden to seek ABA-based educational services for their children, the program will have five classrooms, each structured with class-room style learning and speech, occupational and physical therapies.

Additionally, each classroom will have adapted computers, touch screen monitors and specialized program software that addresses the learning needs of children with disabilities.

“HeartShare has had a great deal of success teaching children with autism in our four pre-school programs,” noted President and CEO William R. Guarinello. “That is why parents turned to us to start a program for older children. There were no appropriate educational services in Brooklyn for many of these families.”

Golden stated, “I am excited that as a partner with HeartShare Human Services, the dreams of the parents who have approached me seeking the best educational opportunities for their autistic children right here in our community will come true. For too long, Brooklyn’s autistic community has been underserved despite the rising numbers of those diagnosed. In that notion, we are going to provide at St. Finbar’s School a state of the art school that is ready to teach the autistic children of our community. We have done a unique and important thing in the planning and establishment of this school. In doing so, we will make better the lives of many now and in the future, for through HeartShare, they will receive an excellent and solid education.”

When at full capacity, The HeartShare School will provide full-day educational services to 48 children. “We still have open placements,” said Carol Verdi, vice president of Educational Services at HeartShare.

“Children from all five boroughs are eligible, but must be on the Pending Needs list through the Central Base Support Team within the New York City Department of Education. HeartShare is excited about the opening of this new program to meet the needs of students in the community.

“Families have been an integral part of the planning process,” said Verdi, “and we will ensure that they remain involved as we move forward.”

For more information about The HeartShare School, contact HeartShare Human Services at 718-323-2877 or visit http://www.heartshare.org.

February 2, 2007 Posted by | aba, ASNB, autism disorder, autism education, inclusion, mainstreaming, NBACL, New Brunswick, New York, schools | 1 Comment

New Brunswick School District 17 Autism Update – Much More Must Be Done

New Brunswick School District 17 has received an update on its existing program for teaching children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The items focused on in the press release are certainly positive developments but they have been in place for some time now and are really only a small first step. The teachers aides who actually deliver the programs and work directly with autistic students require training at the UNB-CEL, and the Resource Teachers who supervise and assist with plan development on a regular basis also require training. That was the idea behind the commitment from Liberal leader Shawn Graham, now Premier Graham, during the recent election campaign to train 100 TA’s and Resource Teachers per year in New Brunswick for the next four years. District 17 should be applauded for following up on its existing program but much work remains to be done and Premier Graham’s training commitment must be followed through if this generation of New Brunswick autisic students are to receive a real education.

School autism plan enhanced

CANADAEAST NEWS SERVICE

Published Wednesday January 24th, 2007
Appeared on page A2

District 17 Education Council says it’s pleased with the progress of its new programs and teaching methods for children with autism spectrum disorders.

The council received a update on its service-delivery model at a DEC meeting Tuesday.

“Before this year, we had resource teachers who worked with a huge variety of children, and they were stretched very thin,” said Supt. Marilyn Ball.

“The Department of Education partnered with UNB to develop a training program for staff members and from that it became clear we needed to put a program in place specifically for autistic children.”

The district has since added three resource teachers for autism who are trained solely to work with autistic children. They travel between all the school in the district, working with teacher assistants and resource teachers to ensure all autistic children are getting the best education possible.

Their goal is to develop programming specific to each individual child since the symptoms and difficulties of autism can have a wide range.

Sandra Bulmer was one of the first to receive the training that is offered by the University of New Brunswick and paid for by the department.

She now works as one of the psychologists for the district.

She said they’ve surveyed schools and written files on each child that has been diagnosed as autistic.

From that, the resource teachers have identified the specific needs of each of the 48 children.

January 24, 2007 Posted by | autism, autism disorder, autism education, New Brunswick, Premier Graham, schools, training, UN-CEL | Leave a comment