Athens, Ga. An innovative University of Georgia graduate program in special education that has prepared scores of Georgia teachers to work with elementary-age students with autism over the last several years has received a new 4-year, $793,000 federal grant to train teachers to work with similarly challenged secondary-age students.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that is part of a group known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Today, 1 in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"There's a need for specialized training on how to structure the classroom, how to respond to these kids when they behave inappropriately and how to design instruction that will facilitate the learning of new skills," said David Gast, a professor of special education, who co-founded the Collaborative Personnel Preparation in Autism (COPPA) program at UGA in 2003.
Gast will co-direct the new program called the Collaborative Adolescent Autism Teacher Training (CAATT) project, with Kevin Ayres, an assistant professor of special education. It will use much of the U.S. Department of Education grant to fund fellowships for up to a dozen graduate students a year to learn how to work with secondary-age students with ASD.
CAATT will work largely with teachers in three diverse school districts in rural, urban and suburban areas of Northeast Georgia.
"Our primary efforts will be in Gwinnett, Clarke and Madison counties as those are our partner districts. But if we were to get an applicant from Cobb (County) who may be a current teacher wanting to complete their M.Ed., they would be eligible," said Ayres. "We are really recruiting statewide as well as out-of-state people. We feel we will be best able to supply Gwinnett, Clarke, and Madison with new teachers when we recruit folks fresh out of their underg
|Contact: Kevin Ayres|
University of Georgia