Understanding Autism

Area teachers are learning different ways to teach those who learn differently.

Little Micah has severe autism.

Taylor County School Behavior Assistant Lea Trujillo says she has seen improvement since she's implemented several new techniques. "I'm on my knees sometimes playing with him and getting him to play with the class and encouraging him to participate with them. What we see is a decrease in his bad behaviors. It calms him and soothes him," she explains.

The Taylor County School District is providing training for exceptional special education teachers and assistants.

The classes include innovative ways to teach children with any form of autism.

Judi Burant says the visuals they've learned to use makes all the difference, especially the First, Then Chart. "It has a piece of Velcro on the back,” she illustrates. “We say first you read and then you can play with Sponge Bob. That way they know they are working towards a goal. They have so many minutes that they have to read and then they can have a treat. I've learned so much from this class."

Taylor County School officials say they have seen an increase in diagnoses of autism in students. They are still speculating why that is.

ESE Supervisor Shona Murphy with Taylor County Schools says, "Part of it may be that we're better able to diagnose and assess these kids and accurately determine [where] they're [at] on the autism spectrum disorder.”

The teachers say they hope this better understanding of autism gives their students a brighter future.

The first-time training started at the beginning of this school year. It is held twice a month.