Supporting Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a complex, lifelong condition that affects individuals from all walks of life, as well as their families, friends and caregivers. ASD is a spectrum disorder, defined by certain behaviours which come in combinations and in degrees of intensity that vary in each child and adult affected.
Many individuals with ASD have trouble communicating with others or difficulty with regular social interactions. Other signs include a tendency toward repetitive behaviours, and unusual or severely limited activities and interests. ASD develops differently from person to person, and the effects can range from relatively mild to debilitating. Unlike some conditions, there is no "typical" person with ASD.
In 2007, the Ministry of Education through Policy/Program Memorandum 140 provided direction to all school boards in the application of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) as an effective instructional approach in the education of many students with ASD. The use of ABA approaches may also be effective for students with other special education needs.
Further the Ministry of Education supported school boards through the release of a resource guide designed to “support educators in elementary and secondary schools in Ontario in planning and implementing effective educational programs for students with ASD. It contains information, strategies, and practices that can be put to use in the school and in the classroom.” (p. 4)
In KPRDSB students with ASD are supported by the classroom teacher within the context of the regular classroom. In situations where the student’s needs require more support the Special Education Teacher in the school will become involved. If the needs are more complex central special education resources will support and enhance the work with the student. For those situations that are considered complex the Board’s special education multi-disciplinary team will become involved. This service supports all students with complex needs including those students with ASD. For students with ASD the involvement of the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) coordinator, Behaviour Support Assistant, Instructional Leadership Consultant and a Speech and Language Pathologist are key members of the multi-disciplinary team. All of these professionals can work with the school team.
There are many resources available to support students with ASD in the classroom. Some of the resources used by Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board can be found here: Link to Resources
A strong collaborative working relationship between parents, school and the community is essential for supporting positive learning for students with ASD. This collaboration may include the development of an Individual Education Plan for a student. Parents who have questions on any of this information or the involvement of the special education resources may contact the principal of the school attended by their student.