More than 9,000 people sign a petition for mandatory autism courses for teachers

Parents and teachers around Northern Ireland are actively signing a petition demanding that teachers go through mandatory educational courses on autism. The petition aims to raise awareness of the lack of enough trained teachers in the special education sphere. 

According to recent statistics, about thirty percent of all students in Northern Ireland are on the spectrum; however, teachers are rarely equipped to provide adequate education to these children. According to Autism NI CEO, Kerry Boyd, children with special learning needs have the right to receive a proper education, which is why teachers should be additionally trained to support them. 

Why start a petition?

Special education is one of the most severe challenges for governments. Incorporating appropriate teacher training is a necessity, as not all children with autism or other learning needs can go to specialized schools. In fact, according to recent research, about eighty percent (80%) of all children with autism in Northern Ireland are going to regular schools. 

In recent years there has been a significant improvement in the way autism is perceived throughout society. There have been numerous campaigns, which managed to raise awareness on the topic. Just last month, a countrywide campaign gained momentum, as it revealed the dangers of bullying at school. According to parents, aside from the fact that children with autism do not always have the proper support of teachers, many of their peers bully them because of the symptoms they experience.

The government and the Department of Education should try and incorporate specific teacher training dedicated to children with special learning needs, as this will improve their school experience.