Need for More Training

I find it interesting that although we’ve known about Autism Disorder for decades the educational system continues to lag behind when it comes to training staff to work effectively with this population.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many educational specialists and special education staff that are well versed in working with Autistic and Asperger’s students, but the majority of educators and administrators have little or no training in the field whatsoever.

Back when I was in school (‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s) these were the quirky kids that just didn’t seem to get it socially. They were ignored, ostracized or made fun of behind their backs. For the most part, because of the disorder, they didn’t realize this was happening, but it by no means excuses the behavior. Kids are often cruel to peers. It’s a sad truth.

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Because a large majority of these students had no recognizable academic deficiencies their need for social training was completely ignored. They moved into the adult world and performed reasonably well in their chosen professions, some even having families, but they continued to struggle socially their entire lives.

So why is it that you can ask an administrator or general education teacher to define Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder and they can give you a fairly accurate definition, but most of them couldn’t do the same for Autism and definitely not for Asperger’s?

Autism and Asperger’s are social disorders. In their milder forms students can pass through 12 years of educational training and just be considered a bit off, but never really examined to determine their needs because they didn’t fail academically.

Public education is not designed to meet the needs of all students. It is designed to give the average student a basic overview or understanding in specific academic areas (reading, writing, math, social studies, science). The goal is to provide just enough academic training so children can move into the adult workforce and fill needed positions to help the country function effectively.

The fifty percent (25% higher functioning and 25% lower functioning) of students who are not average must attempt to function in an educational system that was not designed to meet their needs.

Now if you were a student at least close to the middle you were most likely able to push through the system reasonably well, but for those students on the far ends the system simply failed, and continues to fail.

There is little excuse, when the research is readily available, for professional educators not to be trained to work with such developmental delays.

1 in 6 children come to school with a developmental delay. 1 in 68 students are diagnosed with Autism, but most likely 1 in 30 may have Autism or Asperger’s. This means each classroom in the US may have a student with one of these disorders, with every general education classroom in America having two to three students in a class with some type of developmental delay. And if you think these students are all served through the special education system you are sorely mistaken.

At what point will traditional education realize there are as many kids outside the average as inside and start a comprehensive training program to train educators to teach these students? We’ve moved into the 21st century with no change in sight. Unacceptable!


Interested in learning more about Autism?  Take a look at our Autism & Asperger’s Disorder course which contains additional information on both disorders and their effective intervention strategies.