Online training on autism spectrum disorder launched

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A new online training program on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was launched today for education professionals working in the public school systems of New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Serge Rousselle made the announcement today, which is World Autism Awareness Day.

The program is the result of an interprovincial partnership between New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces as part of the Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training. The training will provide more opportunities for education professionals to enhance their skills and ensure that students with the disorder receive appropriate educational programming.

The program, entitled ASD and Behavioural Interventions: An Introduction for School Personnel, is offered in both French and English. As of today, more than 1,000 educational personnel from the four Atlantic provinces have begun the training.  Modules responding to preschool needs are currently under development.

“On the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day, our government joins our Atlantic partners in taking an important step forward in strengthening our inclusive education system,” said Rousselle. “I am proud of New Brunswick’s leadership role both in developing this new regional program and in providing quality autism training for educators in our province over many years.”

In 2003, the first New Brunswick autism training program was developed in response to calls from parents, advocates and the Autism Society of New Brunswick for applied behaviour analysis-based interventions. In 2012, the department launched its first online course.

Since then, New Brunswick’s autism training has garnered positive attention from international researchers and professionals and been recognized for delivering meaningful results for educators, specialists, families and children.

New Brunswick worked with autism consultants from the other Atlantic provinces and with the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority to expand on and implement the program.

“Expanding the program to the region provides consistency in training, promotes evidence-based practices, ensures responsiveness to emerging research, and achieves efficiencies,” said Rousselle. “We are proud to have worked collaboratively to improve training opportunities for this specialized, but growing, field.”

The number of children with ASD entering New Brunswick’s education system has been steadily increasing. Today, it is estimated that one child in 68 will be diagnosed with ASD in North America.

“The United Nations declared World Autism Awareness Day eight years ago to effect change,” said Rousselle. “New Brunswick and the Atlantic provinces are doing just that through our commitment to evidence-based training for our educators and ASD professionals.”

The Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training is an intergovernmental agency, and its purpose is to enhance co-operation in public (Entry to Grade 12) and post-secondary education in Atlantic Canada by working together to improve learning, optimize efficiencies and bring added value to provincial initiatives.

The Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority provides programs and services for children and youth who are blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard of hearing. The authority oversees the Autism in Education Partnership on behalf of the four Atlantic departments of education.

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