MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Local autism workshop deemed a success

COLUMBIA CITY — It was not your average teachers’ meeting at Little Turtle Elementary School Wednesday.The subject was autism spectrum disorder and education leaders from around the world attended the meeting.Several international educators specializing in autism were in attendance at LTES.Also visiting the school were Dr. Ann Cox of the National Professional Development Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. and Melissa Dubie, educational consultant from the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community and Indiana Resource Center for Autism.Visiting from Saudi Arabia was Ohoud A. Alhaqbani.Bangladesh residents attending were Dr. Rownak Hafiz, Afroza Sultana and Sabina Hossain.Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong developmental disability characterized by difficulties in communication, social interaction, imaginative play and presence of restricted interests and activities often observed prior to the age of three. Dr. Ann Cox, from NPDC, will be training the staff in the Autism Research Center and will work with local sites in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Cox is accompanying the visitors on their tour throughout the programs in the United States. Autism services are provided in segregated settings throughout both countries, serving children and youth from three years of age to around 18 years of age. Corbin addressed how a child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.“First the child needs a medical diagnosis,” said Corbin.“Secondly we work together as a team to get an educational diagnosis. We have our school physiologist, an occupational therapist, speech and language pathologist, current resource teacher, classroom teacher and I serve as an autism consultant,” said Corbin.She is the representative on the Indiana Autism Leaders Association.“It’s an amazing network, led by Melissa Dubie,” said Corbin.It is crucial to diagnose a child using the Childhood Auto Rating Scale.“It gives us an idea the child is likely or non-likely autistic. It all comes together and a final decision is made,” said Corbin.“Today’s meeting was so exciting. Melissa Dubie is fabulous and gave us this special opportunity,” said Corbin.She noted that LTES is on the cutting edge of providing the right support system.Corbin told of a child named “Logan”.“We knew he liked matching games. We made one card with the bathroom sign on it. He took one look at the actual bathroom sign and made the connection. Now he goes to the bathroom independently,” said Corbin.“Teaching an autistic child is like having a raw piece of clay. We have to mold it and work at it to bring the person who’s inside there,” said Corbin.