I often hear from teachers, parents, administrators, therapists, social workers and even adults on the autism spectrum that there is not enough training and knowledge out there for our population. That means that almost everyone involved in the debate agrees that there has not been enough training or there are not enough trained personnel to deal with the up and coming explosion in the autism population. However, when I personally ask teachers and administrators to get more training for their staff, I am almost always rebuffed. Why?

I know part of it is that training costs money and we are in a tight budget cycle. I get that, but at what point is it more expensive to keep having IEP meetings that don’t meet student needs? How much money is lost by having teachers and administrators whiling away time at the IEP table. How much do the substitute teachers cost to keep classrooms maintained while the general education and special education teacher are at several meetings a week?

Another part is that autism is a heterogenous disorder that is wildly different from person to person. I get that too, but many things can be taught that will be supportive of the whole population. Simple things like understanding the knowledge gap, presuming intelligence in the affected person and visual organization skills help a huge segment of people with autism. This sort of thing can be taught in a one day training. What if that one day of training eliminated 3 days worth of meetings? Would it be cost effective then?

Is it that people just don’t want to learn? I don’t think so. I’ve been told by so many people that they want training, they want to learn and they want to figure it out. I put myself in their shoes and ask “would I take a class to get better at my job?” I do, and frequently. I attend classes, conferences, webinars and continuing education to make myself a better REALTOR. Why wouldn’t teachers and administrators want to do the same? Anyone who is proud of what they do wants to get better at doing it.

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that as a parent I will keep on pushing for more training. Teachers need better training in autism to help run their general education classrooms. Administrators need better training in order to prevent discriminatory disciplinary actions. Attorneys need better autism training to understand and represent their clients. Police and emergency services personnel need better training to respond better when a person with autism is involved. These people want this training. As a society, we should find a way to give it to them.