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ASD Conference to Offer Educators Hands-On Classroom Tools

Sherry Egner wants the autistic student in her class this year to be as successful as possible. So do the other four members of that second-grader’s educational team at Walker Charter Academy.

“I want to know, generally speaking, what are strategies to use when he shuts down or gets upset, how to develop his stamina and help him stay with the class and how to help him grow,” she said, “so at the end of second grade he has made considerable progress enough to get to the next grade.”

Research shows that students with autism spectrum disorder do best academically and socially when they are part of general education classrooms. But sometimes the emotional, behavioral and educational needs of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can interfere with other students’ ability to learn.

Egner and her co-workers plan to attend a hands-on conference from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 11 that is expected to draw about 200 educators who want practical, usable resources and methods for students with ASD. The event is hosted by Kent ISD’s Special Education Department, which provides services throughout Kent County.

The inaugural event will include 19 make-and-take lessons on topics such as appropriate classroom behavior, how to add visual elements to aid learning, ASD 101 and Five Tips for Teaching Students with ASD.

“The No. 1 thing (students with ASD) need is socialization, and we want to provide the tools that will keep them in those classrooms,” said Rebecca McIntyre, Kent ISD Special Education supervisor. “These are things teachers can go right back to their classrooms and start implementing right away,”

According to the Statewide Autism Resources & Training program (START), the number of k-12 students with ASD in Michigan has risen from 1,208 in 1990 to 17,986 in 2014. In Kent County, 859 students were identified as having ASD in 2014. Kent ISD’s Special Education Department wrote guidelines for identifying and implementing academic and behavioral standards for students with ASD that are used across the state and beyond.

The ASD conference is co-sponsored by Kent Collaborative Autism Network (Kent CAN), a part of the Statewide Autism Resources & Training program (START) through Grand Valley State University.

The all-day event will be held at the Educational Services Building of the Kent ISD campus, 2930 Knapp St. NE, Grand Rapids 49535, parking in lot 11. Registration ends Nov. 8.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


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