April 25, 2016
One of the frustrations I experience in my role as a school psychologist is encountering a student for whom my experience or expertise is inadequate. This frustration is occasionally increased by learning that there was training on a particular needed topic that occurred just days or a week prior to my recognizing I would need it. Similarly, I have been exasperated in my role as the coordinator of the Central Region Autism Spectrum Disorder team when, immediately after having hosted or presented training which I believed to have been well advertised, I have a teacher or administrator approach me to request support in learning about a topic that was just addressed. In the past, my response has been to use my self-regulation tools to remain calm and then provide the person making the request a list of books, authors, video or links to access. Now, however, I am relieved to have an alternative option. The option is a result of the joint efforts of the Tri-State Autism Network Collaborative which includes the Colorado Department of Education, the Tertiary and Autism Behavior Support Network (TASN) in Kansas, and the Nebraska ASD Network. This collaboration has resulted in invaluable resources that support what I am calling, due to their accessibility at any time, “just-in-time” trainings.
These “just-in-time” trainings are, in reality, relatively short webinars that can be accessed at any time on the internet. The Tri-State Autism Network Collaborative provides training on a wide variety of topics that address the needs of students with autism, their teachers and their administrators. For example, does your district have a need, due to a student moving in mid-year, to provide a paraprofessional some basic information about autism or high-functioning autism? If so, accessing the Nebraska ASD Network website’s list of webinars at http://www.unl.edu/asdnetwork/webinars reveals a solution. There are webinars on both topics. Perhaps, your music, art or physical education teacher would like to increase the participation of individuals with autism in their classroom. They can watch “Including Students with ASD in Specialist Classes” (Art, PE, Music, Computer, etc.). If you are a resource teacher looking to increase the predictability and success of individuals for whom you provide programming for much of the day, consider utilizing the five-part series on “Elements of Structured Teaching.” As a school psychologist considering verification of a student on the spectrum, accessing “Educational Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders” or the two part series on “Catatonia and Autism: Hidden in Plain Sight” with presenters Ruth Aspy and Barry Grossman may be just what you need. Administrators may want to check out, “Administrators and ASD: What You Need to Know.”
If you are a general educator who bemoans the lack of organization, planning, and prioritizing skills demonstrated by students, both those with and without autism, the series on executive function, especially those by Sara Ward “Executive Functioning Skills: STOP” and “Job Talk - Developing Independent Executive Function Skills” are not to be missed. You may think, “That’s fine, I work with young children.” The Tri-State Autism Network Collaborative has considered the needs of teachers of children of all ages. “Every Second Counts: Embedding Functional Learning throughout the School Day” provides information and video examples of using routines to teach functional skills to young children with autism. However, these same principals are helpful for learners of all ages. If you are a teacher of a student transitioning from one school building to another or from one classroom to another, consider “Transitions: Class to Class and Building to Building” as a support to your student. Information on working with older students who may be making a transition to other environments will also be addressed.
This article has included many, but not all, of the topics addressed in the webinars available on the NE ASD website. They are accessible without charge and vary in length from about 30-60 minutes. Each webinar has an accompanying PowerPoint handout of the slides which generally include resources. Many webinars have additional information. There are currently 42 titles that accessed “just-in-time” to meet your needs as an educator who is eager to learn about autism. Take a moment to consider the topics; right now might be the right time for a “just-in-time” training.
To access the webinars, visit https://www.unl.edu/asdnetwork/webinars.
-by Dawna Sigurdson, ESU 10 School Psychologist