Education Ministry’s support for autistic students

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JUST as everyone has a different IQ (intelligence quotient), it is the same with children living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Unfortunately, these children do not process and express information in the way to which the average person is accustomed, and most schools are not equipped to teach children with their special needs.

According to various education websites, autistic children are often comfortable enough with academics, but have difficulties with social skills. Therefore, in addition to academics, it was important to include social skill development, communication, behaviour, and sensory integration in any education programme.

In classes for children with ASD, teachers should be trained in autism and education, there should be a high teacher to student ratio, and there should be supportive therapies such as speech, physical and occupational therapy. In TT, there are limited spaces of education for these children but the Ministry of Education (MoE) provides services for them and their families.

In response to questions from Sunday Newsday, the MoE said there were 146 students, from early childhood to secondary level, referred for special education intervention via the Special Education Unit of the Student Support Services Division (SSSD).

Based on available resources, students identified as being on the autism spectrum received:

• Diagnostic and psycho-educational assessment

• Development and implementation of individualised education plans

• Curricular accommodations and special concessions

• Direct intervention from special education teachers/instructors

• Provision of special education student aides via MoE/OJT programme

• Parent education and support via special education parenting programme for families of students with disabilities.

• Teacher education/support and information sessions

The MoE stated that the education of students with ASD and other disabilities was supported by the ministry through the Private Special School Funding Programme as well as subsidised through student grants at registered private special schools. These schools also received additional grants for any special education services provided.

According to the ministry, special education personnel also received continuous training at professional development workshops and conferences through strategic collaborations with other ministries (health, social development, gender and child affairs), and relevant NGOs involved with developmental disabilities.

The post Education Ministry’s support for autistic students appeared first on Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

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