Ministry of Education
McGuinty Government Taking Action To Help Students With Autism
More Special Education Reforms Reflect Commitment To Reach Every Student
TORONTO, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is implementing additional special education reforms to expand the supports for students with autism spectrum disorders, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne and Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers said today following receipt of the final report of the Autism Spectrum Disorders Reference Group. “I’d like to thank members of the reference group for lending their time and expertise to help us improve the learning environment for students with autism,” said Wynne. “The reference group is an excellent example of a collaborative approach taken between two ministries.” “It is essential that we help children and youth with autism from the day they are diagnosed right through their school years,” said Chambers. “Parents are eager to have their children attend school with the appropriate supports.” The government is increasing the number of children receiving Intensive Behavioural Intervention services outside of the classroom to more than 1,100 - a 105 per cent increase since April 2004.
To build upon the government’s plan to provide supports for children and youth with autism, the government is moving immediately to address more than half of the reference group’s recommendations and will continue to work to review the remainder. Immediate actions, which will benefit 7,000 students who receive special education services from school boards, include:
<< - Directing school boards on the use of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), an effective teaching approach for many students with autism - Creating a resource guide for teachers, educational assistants, administrators and other staff on the most effective ways to teach students with autism - Providing team training for principals, school staff and others to better support students with autism - Posting relevant evidence-based autism research on the Ministry of Education’s website - Encouraging school boards to establish multi-disciplinary teams that include parents and provide input into a student’s individual education plan - Researching and designing ways the ministries can partner together to educate students with autism
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Education selected 14 individuals, including parents, researchers, educators and other experts in September to provide their strategic advice as part of the reference group. The group met six times over the past five months and submitted their report on February 12, 2007. The members will meet twice a year with the Minister of Education’s Advisory Council on Special Education (MACSE) to follow up on the implementation of recommendations. The reference group was chaired by Lynn Ziraldo, the executive director of the York Region Learning Disabilities Association and former chair of MACSE. “During the review, I was inspired by many educators who were using innovative ways to connect with students with autism. Our group wants their success to be spread across the province,” said Ziraldo. “So I’m pleased that the government is committed to moving forward quickly on many of the recommendations in our report.” “Our group’s recommendations demonstrate a shared vision of how Ontario can improve the education system for students with autism,” said Kathryn Everest, a reference group member and parent of a teenager with autism. “I’m very happy that our work is helping the government move in the right direction to give students, like my son, the best education possible.” These steps to improve the learning environment for students with autism follow important reforms to special education started last summer following public panels and consultations. All of the government’s changes reflect a belief that students with special needs can succeed. In Ontario, there are nearly 300,000 students with special needs in publicly funded schools, including more than 7,000 with autism.
To further assist children and youth with autism, the McGuinty government is:
- Investing $5 million in training through the Geneva Centre for Autism for teachers’ assistants who work with students with autism - Providing $2 million in each of three years to the Geneva Centre for Autism to provide training for up to 1,600 resource teachers and home visitors who work with children with autism in the child care sector - Supporting the assessment of all children referred to the autism intervention program since July 2005 in a consistent manner regardless of age - Doubling the government’s annual investment since October 2003 in services for children and youth with autism
“We will continue to work with our education and community partners to help students with special needs,” added Wynne. “Our government is committed to reaching every student, especially those who face unique challenges in the classroom.”
www.edu.gov.on.ca www.children.gov.on.ca www.ontario.ca/progress >>
For further information: Michelle Despault, Education, Minister’s Office, (416) 212-3747; Chris Carson, Children and Youth Services, Minister’s Office, (416) 212-7118; Education Public Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892; Patricia MacNeil, Education, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2676; Anne Machowski-Smith, Children and Youth Services, Communications Branch, (416) 325-5156