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QUALITY OF LIFE Foundation for Autism Support and Training

Autism-Specific Training for Direct Support Staff and Their Supervisors

Just like anyone else, to have a feeling of well-being, adults on the autism spectrum need to feel cared about and need to feel that those that provide support fully understand their needs. Proper autism-specific training of direct support staff and their supervisors is essential in ensuring positive quality of life for adults with autism.

Today, adults on the autism spectrum remain among society’s most vulnerable and poorly served people. While people with cognitive and developmental disabilities are helped significantly by the community-living movement which has helped them to leave institutions and large residential facilities and to become integrated into ordinary communities, the scarcity of direct support staff and immediate supervisors with autism-specific training to effectively work with the broad and multifaceted symptoms of autism means that adults with autism are often denied the proper care and treatment they need. Words like "integration" and "normalization" are used to express the political and social goals for people with disabilities. But little thought or effort has been given to questions of how these ends could be achieved by people with the severe disabilities brought by an autism spectrum disorder. Adults with autism spectrum disorder in the care of community-based agencies are still usually judged challenging and "hard-to serve." Most generic programs—residential facilities, vocational or recreational—have limited staff and expertise, and have experienced much failure in effectively serving the needs of adults with autism.

Proper training of direct support staff and their supervisors is essential in ensuring positive quality of life for adults with autism. This lack of appropriate training continues to be an enormous unmet need in our country.

Proper training of direct support staff and their supervisors is essential in ensuring positive quality of life for adults with autism and this lack of appropriate training continues to be an enormous unmet need in our country.

The National Association for Residential Providers for Adults with Autism (NARPAA) www.narpaa.org has a "Train the Trainers" curriculum as well as an online training course designed to enhance the skills of people working in direct support roles with people who have autism. NARPAA describes its course as comprehensive and includes everything from history and professionalism to behavior analysis and to working effectively with challenging behaviors. NARPAA states that the content of the course has been compiled by experts in the field and has been fully reviewed, and has been competency tested and designed to maximize the learning outcome for the person completing it. It is unlikely however, that an online course will sufficiently cover all of the training issues each particular provider may require. You can preview NARPAA’s training course contents at:http://www.narpaa.org/index.html and service providers can decide for themselves. The Foundation for Autism Support and Training provides autism-specific training to direct care staff and supervisory staff who work directly with people with autism. For information, email us or call 301-260-2777.

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