Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie), Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, today announced that his legislation (S.8340) to require additional training for special education teachers and administrators who work with autistic children has been signed by the governor. The legislation is in response to a current crisis facing the autism community due to of a shortage of appropriately trained educators for children with autism.
In recent years, there has been exponential growth in the number of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The Education Department's Office of Special Education Programs reports a 153.6 percent increase for the period of 1994 - 1999, in students between the ages of 6 to 11 who have been classified as autistic. According to the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Albany, fifty children per day in the US are diagnosed with autism, making it the fastest growing developmental disability in the country.
"It is essential that educators and administrators have the appropriate course work and training to help meet the needs of their students," said Senator Saland. "As such, this legislation will help to ensure that students diagnosed with autism reach their full potential, by working with special education teachers and administrators who have enhanced knowledge of the effective programs and strategies for teaching autistic children."