School staff working with students with autism spectrum disorder will have more support as a result of a new regional training course launched today, April 2, World Autism Awareness Day. The new e-learning resource was launched by the Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training and the Atlantic Province’s Special Education Authority’s Autism in Education Partnership. “With the launch of this course, educators now have an evidence-based resource to help them gain more experience, knowledge and skills to strengthen the support for students with autism spectrum disorder,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey. “Having an inclusive environment in our schools is an important part of our action plan for education. This program supports school staff and helps them provide a better learning environment for all students.” Available in both English and French, the course includes 40 hours of online content that provides consistent training across all four provinces. The course focuses on autism spectrum disorder and its impact on learning, the principles of learning and behaviour, how to support communication and social skills development and more. Educators who will benefit include, learning centre teachers, specialists, speech language pathologists, psychologists and teacher assistants. “This online course was filled with useful and practical information that I was able to implement immediately,” said Janet Pheifer, a learning centre teacher at Eskasoni Elementary and Middle School who completed a pilot of the course. “My students were able to benefit from all of the examples and strategies. I found myself completing a module and then tweaking how we dealt with situations and implemented strategies. “I have seen improvements in learning and behaviour as we improved our methods and understanding of autism spectrum disorder.” This interprovincial initiative is part of the ongoing effort to provide more support to students with autism.