About one in 60 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) nationwide, and that rate is rising. The New Mexico Public Education Department announced Wednesday a new online autism portal where families and educators can go to find resources and support.
The website, developed with the UNM Center for Development and Disability, has resources that are searchable by age group and need, lists of providers, and personal blog posts by individuals who have autism.
Pat Osbourn, who directs the Center’s autism programs, said the portal has new online trainings specifically for school staff on "things like how to set up a classroom, how to assist children with ASD in a more inclusive way, what to do about challenging behaviors that might arise in a classroom, and how to keep accurate data."
There's high turnover among special educators, said Osbourn, so the Center is working to help new teachers with in-person trainings and classroom assistance as well as webinars.
Autism spectrum disorder is marked by challenges in social communication as well as restricted and repetitive behaviors, and is often diagnosed by a clinical psychologist or pediatrician.
The website was created under a contract with the NM Department of Health using funds from autism awareness license plates, a program created by the state legislature in 2015.
Support for KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, and from KUNM listeners like you.