Delaware needs bill to expand autism services

Jan 25, 2018, Delaware News Journal: Bill would expand Delaware Autism Program, provide resources statewide …But Liberty, now in seventh grade, is one of more than 2,000 students in Delaware with autism spectrum disorder. Though Delaware has a specialized program to serve those students, it only operates out of six school districts. A new bill could change that. … Liberty's situation is an example of what can happen to children who don't live in a school district currently part of the Delaware Autism Program. Their parents decide between putting their kids on a bus to the nearest countywide center or state-approved autism program and working with a district that might have limited funding and training. Part of the problem is when the Delaware Autism Program was created in 1991, there were only 152 students in the entire state diagnosed with the disorder. Today, there are 2,109, according to Autism Delaware. Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, said a new bill will help districts access the autism resources they need more affordably. If passed, the Delaware Autism Program would, over a number of years, hire 15 specialists who could team up with school districts and charter schools to train teachers working with students diagnosed with autism. Currently, many school districts contract with outside consultants to provide that guidance. Autism Delaware has estimated districts spent at least $3.1 million on consulting services "in piecemeal and reactive ways." That includes $1.7 million for out-of-state placements for severely affected students who need specialized care. …

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