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(Canada) Edmonton: No. of autistic kids in area schools "has risen drastically"; increase unexpected

Feb 7, 2018, (Canada) Edmonton, Alberta, U of Alberta, The Gateway: Support autistic kids in Edmonton … In recent years, the number of kids with autism attending school here in Edmonton has risen drastically. Since 2004, the number of autistic kids has gone up over six and a half times and while the district has also grown by 23 per cent, this increase was unexpected. As a result the challenges that schools here in Edmonton are being faced with when addressing the needs of autistic kids has been brought to light. Moreover, this increase has demonstrated how when schools fail to meet these children’s needs they and their families are negatively affected. … The problem is that despite school plans, many parents and their children feel they don’t have proper support. As Amanda Drier — whose daughter Shyann is autistic — puts it this can lead to autistic kids being “looked at like they’re bad kids. But they’re not bad kids.” When speaking with the Edmonton Journal last week, Drier raised concerns about her daughters experience at her elementary school which has been met with a variety of different challenges such as aids who have not been properly trained, restricted access to sensory rooms, and a general lack of knowledge by the school on how to provide aid for her daughter. Drier is not the only parent who shares these concerns, … Overall autistic kids and their families face challenges here in Edmonton. The only way to address this problem is for schools to offer the proper programming. Of course no one is suggesting that teachers and their schools care less about their autistic students, but what needs to be recognized and addressed quickly here in Edmonton is that schools have shortcomings and that these shortcomings can be addressed — in part — by reeducating staff, and getting the proper infrastructure that their autistic students need to achieve their goals.

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