ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)
|Thursday, July 13, 2006: 1:30 PM-2:45 PM|
|#2031- Building a State Support Infrastructure for Students with Autism in Rhode Island|
|This session will provide information on building a statewide infrastructure for students with Autism. Rhode Island school districts are working to develop the capacity to support students with Autism from age three through twenty-two. The challenge for school districts is to understand and consistently implement research based best teaching strategies from grade to grade and school to school. Based on recommendations from the National Research Council, the elements of a state support infrastructure will be covered. |
|Presenters:|| - Sue is the Director of the Autism Support Center, co-supported by the Rhode Island Department of Education and Rhode Island College. As Director, Sue is working to create a stronger state infrastructure to support individuals with Autism in Rhode Island. This includes providing training and job-embedded support to staff in schools, developing an ASD network, creating and supporting demonstration classrooms and looking closer at the numbers of students with Autism. Sue is currently teaching the first graduate course on Autism at Rhode Island College.
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- Amy Grattan is a teacher fellow currently working in collaboration with the Sherlock Center at Rhode Island College and the Autism Support Center. Amy provides training and job-embedded support to staff in schools across the state working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Amy coordinates national speaker conferences in Rhode Island as well as the ASD Parent and Professional network. Amy is the Rhode island trainer of teachers for the new pilot Alternate Assessment for students with more significant disabilities. Amy is also a trainer of teachers using the Early Childhood Standards in Rhode Island.
This session will provide information on building a statewide infrastructure for students with Autism. In Rhode Island, over the past ten years, there has been approximately a 1900% increase of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the public schools. The Department of Education, Office of Special Populations and the Rhode Island Technical Assistance Project at Rhode Island College recognize the needs that students with ASD present with. The Autism Support Center is an initiative of the Rhode Island Technical Assistance Project (RITAP).
The Autism Support Center offers services and supports to individuals with ASD, professionals and families. Elements of a state support infrastructure were adopted from the National Research Council and the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Also, as a state agency, there must always be alignment with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act as well as the Rhode Island State Improvement Plan (SIP).
The first element of support is personnel preparation. There is always the need for qualified teachers. “Highly qualified” is a core feature of NCLB. So, there needs to be coursework and training experiences designed to ensure high quality teachers are graduating from the institutes of higher education in Rhode Island. There are now two graduate courses that teachers can take at Rhode Island College which are specific to Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The next element of support is technical assistance. Many practitioners in schools across the state are in need of technical assistance for their students with ASD. The Autism Support Center provides technical assistance, professional development and job-embedded support to staff in schools in Rhode Island. The No Child Left Behind Act puts emphasis on proven research based teaching methods. The Center also houses a Resource Center for individuals with ASD, parents, families and educators.
Applied research and program evaluation is another element of support. The Best Practice Rubric for Students with Low Incidence Disabilities and those Disabilities that Greatly Affect Functioning (2005 © Rhode Island College) is designed as part of a strategy of continuous improvement. This framework is used a measuring instrument to conduct program evaluation. This instrument will be shared with the participants during the presentation.
Rhode Island teachers, support staff in schools and families now have a communication network. The ASD network system is designed to assist school personnel, families and students in developing quality programs for students with ASD that meet the same high quality standards established for all students. The network includes meeting and examining current roles of staff in schools, developing professional development opportunities, enhancing communication within the network and cultivating pathways for dissemination of resource information and developing partnerships and resources for recruitment and retention of teachers and support staff to build the capacity of the local school districts to meet the needs of students with ASD.
There are a number of demonstration classrooms, which have been identified and developed in Rhode Island. Demonstration sites have often been used to expand the capacity of school systems to support their students. Many teachers and staff have visited the demonstration classrooms both from within and outside of the local district the classes are housed in. There are demonstration sites at every level (preschool, elementary, middle and high school). More information about the demonstration sites will be shared during the presentation.
In Rhode Island, in the year 2000, the state regulations changed the definition of Autism as an eligibility category for special education. Previous to 2000, a child was only eligible under the Autism category if the diagnosis was Autism. Starting with the new regulations in 2000, students with any diagnosis under the ASD spectrum (Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett's and Asperger Syndrome) are now eligible for special education under the Autism category. This is in an attempt to have an organized data system with students with ASD in Rhode Island.
Lastly, there is continuous statewide planning in Rhode Island allocating the small resources that are available in a strategic, systematic manner to reach the goals of the Autism Support Center.
The participants will: 1. Receive information on how Rhode Island is working to create a state infrastructure to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorders 2. Learn how to start to create a state infrastructure in their own respective states 3. Learn how to use the Effective Practice rubric to evaluate and/or create programs/classrooms for students with ASD
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