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Innovative New Course to Help Teachers of Students with Autism

Attendees Receive UC Davis Academic Credit


Educators who work with young students who have autism in the Sacramento County region now have more instructional resources available to help meet the needs of special needs students.

The Sacramento County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), in cooperation with UC Davis Extension, and the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, announces a new three-week course series focused on teaching young students with autism spectrum disorders. The program is designed for teachers, speech therapists, and psychologists who currently work with children who have autism. The course series begins June 19 at the Sacramento County Office of Education.

"Our understanding of autism and approaches to working with children increases every day," said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools. "This course has been developed in direct response to the parents of children with autism, parents who ask: 'Where is there training for teachers who work with my child?'"

The Sacramento County SELPA is providing the course at no cost to participants. Participants will pay their own academic credit fees at the time of enrollment. This is a specialized studies program and participants who successfully complete the 90-hour program, worth nine credits, will earn a specialized studies award from UC Davis Extension.

"It's clear that the number of elementary-school-aged children with a diagnosis of autism has grown significantly in the past decade," said Robert Hendren, executive director of the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute and chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for the UC Davis School of Medicine. "While we don't know what is causing this trend, we do know that children with autism can make tremendous progress with education-based interventions. We're thrilled to support this new professional education program that will help teachers and psychologists address the specific needs of this growing population of students."

Attendees are expected to enroll in all three courses. The program and instructors are approved by the UC Davis School of Education.

Summer courses are as follows:

  • June 19-23: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • June 26-30: Applied Behavior Strategies and Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • August 7-11: Best Practice Strategies and Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders

All classes meet from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sacramento County Office of Education.

The summer course is currently filled. Presentations provided by the class instructors will be recorded and eventually made available online for those future students who will be taking the course through distance learning, which is expected to begin in January 2007.

The goal of the Sacramento County SELPA is to deliver high-quality special education programs and services to special needs students in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. The SELPA serves students in 13 districts and the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE). As the SELPA's administrative unit, SCOE receives funds and is responsible for seeing that every eligible child receives appropriate services. In addition to administrative support, the SELPA helps districts comply with legal requirements concerning students with disabilities, and provides professional development activities to foster better relationships between schools and the families of special needs students

The UC Davis M.I.N.D. (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute is a unique collaborative center bringing together parents, scientists, clinicians, and educators for research on autism, fragile X syndrome, learning disabilities, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Those interested in seeking more information about this program should call (530) 757-8864.