NORWICH – While the number of teachers in attendance at a conference on autism held in Norwich last week were few, little else could be said against it. In fact, a turnout of about 230 individuals wanting to learn more about the newest epidemic sweeping the nation attested to its import.
The conference was a first for the Family Resource Network, a not-for-profit organization serving six upstate counties, including Chenango. The event followed newly released data in April that showed that 1 in every 150 American 8 year-old children have an autism spectrum disorder.
“We couldn’t have been more pleased with the turnout,” the Network’s Director Pam Larsen said. Participants and support services providers came from most of the major cities throughout upstate New York, including Oneonta, Binghamton, Albany, Syracuse and Rochester.
Two of the small number of teachers in attendance said they gleaned much useful information and not just for those with autistic disorders. “The suggestions for teaching special needs kids is good teaching for all kids. And easily done,” said Greg Belander, a science teacher from Elmira.
“There are different learning strategies for all types of kids,” said Greg Longwell, who is also a science teacher.
Dimeta Johnson of Corning, and the mother of an autistic child, said she learned new modifications that her child’s teachers could make for homework assignments and tests.
“Some people don’t always understand that it’s not just cutting the paper in half. We need to find ways to adapt the test so that it fits the child,” she said.