Autism Reality

"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.

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

Please Honor Premier Graham’s Autism Training Commitment

January 14 2007

Hon. Victor Boudreau
Minister of Finance

Dear Hon. Minister Boudreau:

I am writing to ask that you honor the commitment made by now Premier Shawn Graham during the recent election campaign during which time he promised to provide training for 100 Teachers’ Aides and Resource Teachers per year for the next four years at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program. The fulfillment of this promise is of vital importance to the education of autistic children. These children are not receiving the “cadillac treatment” in New Brunswick schools right now. Far from it.

For many autistic students fulfillment of Premier Graham’s promise will mean the difference between staying in school and not being sent home because teachers, aides, and other professionals did not understand their behavior and the conditions in the schools which can seriously disrupt environmentally sensitive and communication challenged children. For a great many others it will mean the difference between receiving a real education and simply being babysat as a false testament to New Brunswick’s inclusive education system. Teachers can not commit the time and attention needed to educate autistic children properly and instruct the rest of the class. Most autistic students need TA’s for safety reasons. It makes no sense whatsoever not to provide autism trained TA’s to assist them in learning. The UNB-CEL program is top notch and offers training in autism and the methods that work in educating autistic children.

My profoundly autistic son is almost eleven years of age. The previous government dragged out the Interdepartmental Committee Report on autism services for two years before issuing a report in 2001. The report went unread for another year by the lead minister charged with the autism portfolio. Most of its recommendations remain unfulfilled. My son is growing older. He has had properly trained TA’s for two of his six school years but even now with an excellent well trained TA she is not permitted to spend the full day with him and there is no one to replace her when she is absent for personal reasons. Many autistic students have TA’s with no autism specific training or no TA at all.

Do not underestimate the importance of the Premier’s commitment to train TA’s and Resource teachers to work with our autistic children Mr. Boudreau. They have lost out too long. They need autism trained personnel to help them learn and they need them now. Delay is not an option. Understand their needs, respect the Premier’s commitment and authorize the necessary funding.


Harold L. Doherty
Fredericton NB

cc. Education Minister Lamrock
Justice Minister & Fredericton-Nashwaaksis MLA Burke
Autism Society New Brunswick

January 14, 2007 Posted by | aba, autism, commitment, education, funding, honor, TA's, teachers, training | 1 Comment