First-ever standards for schools to help meet the needs of students with ASD
By: Robin Gurley for ASA
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Autism Society announced the publication of professional competencies for teaching students with autism spectrum disorders at the Autism Society’s 40th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders in St. Charles, Illinois, last week. The competencies will be incorporated into CEC’s resource on highly qualified teachers, What Every Special Educator Needs to Know.
“As the incidence of autism has increased, universities and colleges created their own version of competencies to guide program development,” said Cathy Pratt, PhD, Director of the Indiana Resource Center on Autism and the Autism Society Board Chair, who worked on the competencies. “With the release of these competencies and through the leadership of the Autism Society and CEC, there is now a national standard that can be used for both course and program creation and for professional development in schools,” Dr. Pratt said.
These professional competencies contain the knowledge and skill base that professionals entering practice or assuming advanced roles should possess to practice safely and effectively. These competencies are based on evidence-based autism research and will be part of the CEC and CEC/NCATE accreditation that universities go through in designing their special education curricula.
“CEC is delighted to have collaborated with the Autism Society in developing a set of knowledge and skills that will speak clearly and unambiguously to the field,” said Richard Mainzer, Associate Executive Director of Professional Services at CEC. “Before being approved, the standards went through a rigorous process that included documenting the supporting literature and surveying practitioners. The result is the best of the best practices.”
Lee Grossman, President and CEO of the Autism Society, agreed. “These competencies will have tremendous impact in local schools,” said Grossman. “Parents can be assured that going forward their children’s teachers will be trained according to nationwide, evidenced-based standards.”
The competencies were drafted through a grant from and with support from the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI). The Autism Society’s Network of Autism Training and Technical Assistance Programs (NATTAP) conducted research and technical assistance in this process.
Family members and individuals on the spectrum were also involved in the development process. NATTAP will be integral in the implementation and training of the use of competencies in school districts. The competencies will also be part of the Autism Internet Modules, a platform with 80 modules under development which will provide evidence-based content based on the competencies. The competencies also will be included in textbooks that will be used in universities classrooms.