Teachers need autism training

Published 6:41 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Last year, I spent a great deal of time touring schools throughout the state as part of my work on the Autism Task Force.

One of the biggest issues I discovered was the need for more training to assist teachers in working with children who have special needs.

Such training can be expensive. Often educators have to travel so far to get the training, gas prices place an additional strain on their work to get the tools they need.

The next two years promise to be the worst for state education budgets in over a decade.

A reduction in funding for teacher training is one of the biggest areas of concern.

Alabama’s ACCESS Distance Learning infrastructure, along with the eLearning for Educators project, offers real possibilities for bringing the training programs to the teachers in their homes.

While ACCESS was originally designed to teach kids advanced placement (AP) courses in the classroom, I think it can also be used to provide teachers with access to the best practices in teaching throughout the country.

Instead of having to get in your car and pay for a costly trip to a training course in a distant city, imagine if you could turn on a computer in your school and receive the latest training from an expert.

The teacher would receive continuing education credits for this training and it would cost little if any money for the school systems that use this service.

By August of 2009, Alabama is scheduled to have distance learning technology in every school system.

With very lean budgets ahead of our state during these tough economic times, we need to take advantage of the information technology and use these programs to expand services without the costs typically involved with such efforts.

Teachers should be offered every opportunity to have the tools they need to teach our children, so why not take advantage of an inexpensive format to do so?