The State Education Department's Office of Special Education Programs reports a 153.6% increase for the period 1994-1999, among students between the ages of 6 to 11 classified with autism. According to the University of Albany, Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, 50 children per day in the United States are diagnosed with autism, making it the fastest growing developmental disability in the country. Legislation enacted in 2006 required special education teachers and administrators be trained in the needs of autistic children in order to be certified by February 2007. This bill provides that special education administrators are required to obtain similar training in the needs of autistic children if appointed to the position on or after September 2, 2009. This bill further allows BOCES to provide such training as part of its professional development program.
“Given the increasing prevalence of autism, it is vitally important that special education teachers and administrators be specially trained to address the needs of autistic children,” said Senator Saland. “Having the knowledge of effective methodologies, programs and strategies will help teachers provide their autistic students with a positive learning experience and help them achieve their greatest potential,” Saland concluded.
The new law takes effect immediately.