Monday, August 3, 2009

Pennsylvania School Districts Keeping Students with Autism Closer to Home

For Tammy Barton, a special education teacher in the Kiski Area School District, each autistic student is a puzzle to be solved.
"I love to try to figure out a way to reach them," she said. "You have to make it interesting for them. I have an autistic boy who is fascinated by the color green, so we make sure his pencils are green, his erasers are green. It helps him focus."
With the diagnosis of autism in the United States on the rise, teachers such as Barton are required to solve this kind of puzzle more and more. Over the past decade, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of public school students diagnosed with autism has risen six-fold.
While many of these students do well in regular classes, children with the most severe forms of autism have historically been placed in special schools.
But changing interpretations of education law are pushing public schools to educate every student closer to home.
So over the past few years, more and more area districts have set up classrooms designed specifically for autistic students.

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