Krantz, 2000). The challenge for each program is how to provide differentiated curricula that are adapted to the social, cognitive, and communication needs of children with autistic spectrum disorders. Specific areas addressed by programs include patterns of development in autistic spectrum disorders, theories of underlying deficits and strengths, general and specific strategies of intervention, classroom-based approaches to communication and social development, and methods of evaluating effectiveness.
Teachers learn according to the same principles as their students. Multiple exposures, opportunities to practice, and active involvement in learning are all important aspects of learning in teachers, as well as in children. Many states and community organizations have invested substantial funds in teacher preparation, predominantly through workshops and large-audience lectures by well-known speakers. While such presentations can be inspiring, they do not substitute for training and ongoing supervision and consultation.
There are a number of creative models for the preparation of personnel who provide interventions for children with autistic spectrum disorders. These models have been implemented primarily at a state level (see Hurth et al., 2000). These models can be defined in terms of three stages of training, each related to a different level of experience with autistic spectrum disorders. The first level is initial training, which occurs preservice or in the first few weeks of school and assumes that the trainees have minimal knowledge or experience working with children with autistic spectrum disorders and their families (McClannahan and Krantz, 2000; Smith et al., 2000). The TEACCH program in North Carolina (Marcus et al., 2000) and the Denver program (Rogers et al., 2000), for example, have weeklong preservice workshops that are open to the public. This training usually has a strong hands-on component but also includes lectures and workshops. Across the comprehensive programs reviewed in Chapter 12, the range of time devoted to initial training was from a full-time week of lectures and teaching in a model classroom to didactic sessions held several times a week through the first four to six weeks of school.
A second level of personnel preparation consists of ongoing training and mentorship, usually in the first year of teaching. A lead teacher or supervisor who is available full-time to the staff often provides this training. The primary responsibility of this person, who typically does not have her or his own classroom, is the ongoing training and support of teaching staff in the programs for children with autistic spectrum disorders and also staff in regular classrooms where these children are included. Such a person is part of almost all the well-established programs (see, e.g., Powers, 1994; McGee et al., 1999). The lead teacher usually has general special education credentials and substantial experience in autism