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Meeting of the Board of Regents | March 2008

Saturday, March 1, 2008 - 11:20pm

sed seal                                                                                                 






VESID Committee



Rebecca H. Cort 



Planning for the April 2008 Board of Regents Regional Meeting on Students with Autism



March 4, 2008


Goals 1 and 2







Issue for Discussion


VESID Committee Regional Meeting on Autism scheduled for April 10, 2008.


Reason(s) for Consideration


              For information and discussion.  The Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) has initiated planning for the VESID Committee Regional Meeting on Autism to be held in Long Island.  The Regional Meeting has tentatively been scheduled for April 10, 2008 from 10:30 to 1:00 p.m.  The location of the meeting has yet to be determined. 


Proposed Handling


Review and recommendations.


Procedural History


Not applicable.


Background Information


The purpose of the VESID Committee Regional Meeting on Autism will be to inform the Regents on the issues affecting the availability and effectiveness of educational programs and services for students with autism in New York State, including issues relating to:

  • the increasing numbers of students identified as students with autism;
  • the spectrum of autism disorders, including Asperger’s Syndrome;
  • increasing the capacity and quality of education programs in public and private schools for students with autism;
  • the knowledge and skills general and special education teachers need to possess to effectively provide instruction to students with autism; and
  • ensuring availability of programs in the least restrictive environment for students with autism to meet their unique social, behavioral and academic needs and to provide for access, participation and progress of these students in the general education curriculum.


              Over the past decade, VESID implemented several targeted activities to improve the availability and quality of programs for students with autism.  In 1999, at the request of VESID, a State of the State Meeting on Autism was held in which we heard from parents, educators, higher education professionals, experts from the field of autism and others to assist VESID in identifying and supporting statewide improvement strategies.  As a result of the meeting and guided by a VESID convened Temporary Task Force on Autism serving in an advisory role, VESID:


  • funded a statewide technical assistance network consisting of four regional centers on autism (New York Autism Network);
  • developed and published Autism Program Quality Indicators;
  • funded 17 New York State (NYS) colleges and universities to develop coursework to prepare teachers and related service providers to work with children with autism;
  • conducted a survey on the availability and effectiveness of preschool programs for children with autism; 
  • published a brochure for physicians and health care providers, developed jointly with the Children’s Hospital at  Albany Medical Center 

    Developmental Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics

    New York State, Chapter 1, on identifying children with autism spectrum disorders;
  • identified and provided replication grants for schools with effective educational programs for students with autism; and
  • provided autism program development grants in several regions of the State.


Currently, the Department is engaged in:


  • developing regulations to require that all special education teachers and administrators working in special education have coursework or training in the area of autism;
  • developing new models of short term behavioral assessment and intervention for children with autism and other developmental disabilities who present the most serious self-injurious and aggressive behaviors; and
  • increasing in-State capacity of the private schools in NYS to serve students with autism.


To continue the Department’s focused attention to the needs of children with autism, it is time to review again the State of the State of Autism.  The proposed regional meeting of the VESID Regents Committee will provide the opportunity to assess where we are as a State and what additional actions the Department take to address program availability and effectiveness for this population of students. 


Plan for Regional Meeting:


To facilitate a discussion on this topic, the proposed plan is to invite individuals with experience and expertise in the field of autism, including a:


  • parent of a student with autism;
  • representative from an institution of higher education;
  • school principal from a public school program serving students with Asperger’s syndrome;
  • representative from an approved private program serving students with severe forms of autism;
  • representative from NYS’ funded technical assistance center on autism; and a
  • special education administrator of a public school with effective programs for children with autism.


The invited individuals will participate in an interactive conversation on different aspects of autism including teacher preparation and training needs, factors that promote effective education programs for students, education program factors unique to students with Asperger’s syndrome; and the technical assistance needs of school personnel, parents and others.  The sessions will include questions by members of the Board of Regents.




That the Board of Regents reach agreement on the plan for the Regional Meeting on Autism. 


Timetable for Implementation


Upon approval of the proposed plan by the Board of Regents, Department staff will complete preparations for the Regional Meeting on Autism.  The meeting is scheduled for April 10, 2008.