Seven keys to an effective autism education program

With 35,000 new cases of autism diagnosed each year, educators are preparing for an influx of students with autism.

With incidences of reported autism increasing exponentially, educators are struggling to accommodate the needs of this growing population of students. But some key steps, including individualized assessments and data tracking, can help schools create effective programs for students with autism, one expert says.

During a recent webinar, Jamie Pagliaro, executive vice president of Rethink Autism and founding executive director of the New York Center for Autism Charter School, gave schools valuable advice for teaching students with autism.

“Key Components of an Effective School-Based Autism Program” identified seven important steps that researchers and practitioners agree are necessary to provide effectual support for autistic students:

  1. Individualized assessment
  2. Functional curriculum
  3. Research-based teaching
  4. Low staffing ratios
  5. Family involvement
  6. Data tracking
  7. Training and supervision

“We started to ask questions about the common components for schools and programs that are doing a really fantastic job dealing with autism,” Pagliaro said.

According to 2009 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, one in 110 children is diagnosed with autism, leading to 730,000 youths with autism spectrum disorders in the United States alone from ages 0-21—a 70-percent increase from the prior estimate of autism incidences in 2002.

“That 70-percent increase is really a staggering figure,” said Pagliaro. “It’s particularly challenging in the school district environment, where we’re facing one of our most difficult economic climates we’ve seen in the last few decades.”

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