More than 400 Autism Inclusion Teachers started their new positions in Feburary to help South Australians better understand and support autistic children and teenagers.
As part of a major election promise, the SA Government has allocated $28.8 million to offer access to an Autism Inclusion Teacher (AIT) in every public primary school, from reception to year 12.
AITs’ responsibilities will include expanding their own knowledge and skills in order to influence the professional behavious of other school staff members.
This will cover how to create calm environments, emotional support strategies, and other learning skills to help neurodiverse individuals learn more effectively in the classroom.
In total 417 AITs have been nominated across South Australia, with some small, rural, or regional schools choosing to combine the role across multiple sites.
The Education Department surveyed people with Autism, parents and carers, educators, schools, students, families, professionals, and community organisations to ensure the AIT position meets community needs.
The AITs will develop their skills through a focused professional learning package that includes in-person instruction, workshops, and online modules.
An additional 100 specialist staff, including Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, and Counsellors, will be hired to support schools and preschools.
Premier Peter Malinauskas said he is proud to see South Australia leading the way in this area, by harnessing and expanding the dedicated efforts of passionate and committed teachers.
“This nation-leading initiative will see these teachers build their own skills and in turn each school’s capacity to work with autistic children and young people.”
Assistant Minister for Autism Emily Bourke, says that the Government has listened to the calls of the autistic and autism communities.
“We are not waiting 10 years, 5 years or even 2 years to make change. Today, we are delivering the nation’s first statewide autism inclusion teacher network.”