State lacks standardized training methods for autistic students

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 11:54am
Staff reports

Tennessee lacks standardized methods for training teachers who have autistic students, according to a report released Wednesday by the state comptroller’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability.

Findings come in the second of a three-part series studying Tennessee’s public services for children with autism.

School systems are responsible for providing K-12 teachers with training on how to most effectively teach students with autism.

But according to the report, each school system goes about this training responsibility differently, and the state lacks comprehensive data on which school systems’ teachers are most prepared to teach children with autism.

Some teachers may receive training through the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Other school systems provide in-house training and support for teachers.

The report profiles Knox and Williamson county schools as two examples of this practice. Higher education institutions are another source of training for teachers. The report includes a survey of the autism-specific curriculums available at Tennessee’s two- and four-year public higher education institutions.

“Best practices for educating children with autism are still largely in development,” said Joseph Woodson, OREA legislative research analyst and author of the report. “Tennessee and the nation are still learning how best to educate children with autism.”

The report also includes an examination of efforts made in other states to improve autism services. Some states have developed task forces or state-level agencies for autism services, while others have implemented comprehensive systems for teacher training and other support services.