AMHERST – The Nova Scotia government is introducing a new resource guide for schools and a local outreach service here in Amherst is calling it a positive step.
Education Minister Ramona Jennex announced Monday schools across the province are now receiving the guide Developing and Implementing for Students With Autism Disorder, a tool teachers and school staff can use to help meet the needs of autistic students.
Erin Perry, Cumberland Early Intervention Program’s [CEIP] executive director, called the guide a fantastic resource with good information and ideas about autism and offers support for working with students.
“Tools and education is a great thing to help teachers [and] support staff working with children with autism,” Perry says.
CEIP is a family centered organization that serves children with special needs and their families in their homes and communities and advocates all children should have the opportunity to grow alongside their peers.
Providing teachers and schools with guidelines and resources is a step in the right direction, Perry says, but cautions it shouldn’t be used to replace boots-on-the-ground.
“The one thing I would like to note is that all children with autism are so unique, any book or resource doesn’t have all the answers” Perry says. “It is still very important to have… professionals in the school system that can observe/asses each child to ensure any support or programming meet the unique needs of each child. “
The guide includes information on how students with autism learn, and practical strategies for teaching. It addresses working with challenging behaviour and handling transition issues such as moving from one activity to the next, which children with autism often find difficult.
It also features tips to help schools and parents communicate well and provide co-ordinated support.
Teachers, school board autism specialists, Education Department staff and health professionals helped develop the guide, which also draws on research and best practices from other provinces.
The new guide is available at www.studentservices.ednet.ns.ca.