CHENEY, WA--It may be difficult to communicate with children who have autism...But they still have communication needs.
Fulfilling those needs is Dawn Sidell's mission. Sidell, the executive director of the Northwest Autism Center, believes teachers and childcare providers should have better access to proper training to handle the needs of autistic children.
The Autism Center reports that up to six out of 1,000 children have some form of autism.
Sidell says autism shouldn't preclude those children from a good education.
"I have a pretty strong belief that all individuals--children, adolescents, or adults should be able to reach their highest potential."
Right now Eastern Washington University is offering a training seminar called Summer 2008 Autism Intensive. The seminar is aimed at teaching educators better ways to instruct children with autism and how to better serve families dealing an autistic child.
Terry Miethe, who works at a daycare, has enrolled in the week long program with the help of her employer.
"It's so important to have my employer help me to have time off," she says. "To be able to go to classes and help me have the opportunity to learn more and see what is out there."
Approximately 30 people are participating in the seminar. Two different groups are each taking a full week of courses hosted by Eastern. This program is in its first year, but organizers believe it will continue to grow.
For Sidell, the mission is personal. Her teenage son is autistic and she works to ensure that teachers know how to reach out to the kids who can't necessarily ask for help.