Japanese Educators Turn to U.S. Experts in Special Education

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The Help Group sends experts in Asperger’s Disorder and autism as new government mandates for children with special needs are set in motion.

Experts in the education of Asperger’s Disorder and high-functioning autism from the Los Angeles’ Help Group will visit Tokyo and Osaka Aug. 23-26, 2006 to present two, two-day seminars on educating children with ASD to an estimated 600 Japanese educators and education-related staff such as mental health workers, speech and language pathologists and occupational therapists.

The visit is designed to help address Japan’s new legislation through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and technology (the equivalent of the U.S. Department of Education), which mandates that educational services be given to students with Asperger’s Disorder, high-functioning autism, ADHD and learning disabilities beginning 2007. Japan currently has programs and funding in place for children with severe learning disabilities and autism, but does not offer classes to children with milder forms.

“It is estimated that Japanese education in this field is 30 years behind that of the United States,” said Dr. Takeda, visiting professor, Osaka Medical College’s Center for Learning Disabilities, Professor Emeritus of Osaka Kyoiku University, and President of the Japan Association for Special Needs Educational Needs. “There are many things we can learn from The Help Group, which had the foresight to address this population and today is one of the leading U.S. experts in the education of children and adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome, learning disabilities and ADHD. We would like to develop a curriculum for our Japanese specialists, which include annual visits to The Help Group facilities to further augment their study.” Dr. Takeda has been proactive in educating his colleagues as preparations are underway in Japan’s schools working with these populations.

The August seminars in Japan will explore how to provide education, social skills training and behavior management to young children with Asperger’s and high functioning autism. In addition, they will address general autism education for preschool and elementary settings, summer camps for social development and transition programming for older students with autism.

The summer lecture series in Japan will include the cities of Tokyo, Aug. 23-24 and Osaka, Aug. 25-26, 2006. The Help Group team of experts from Los Angeles includes Dr. Laurie Stephens, The Help Group’s Director of Autism Spectrum Disorders Programs, and Pamela Clark, Director of Schools.

It’s very exciting to be able to share The Help Group’s expertise with Japan’s educators and other professionals,” said Dr. Barbara Firestone, President and CEO, The Help Group. “I applaud our colleagues in Japan for their commitment to developing comprehensive programs to students with these special needs.”

The Help Group’s established its Village Glen School 10 years ago to serve students with Asperger’s Disorder and high-functioning autism at a time when Asperger’s Disorder was considered a new diagnostic category and little information was available about the most effective ways to educate these children. The school offers a full curriculum that follows the academic state standards while incorporating daily social skills lessons and positive behavioral strategies in the highly structured and supportive environment. Today, Village Glen is recognized as a model of excellence both nationally and abroad.

The Help Group’s programs for Japanese educators began in August 2005 when a small group of experts led by Dr. Takeda visited the campus. Since that time, 100 specialists from Japan have traveled to The Help Group for its lectures since the relationship was established last year. In addition to the lectures to be presented in Japan, thirty five educators are due to visit in late August for a two day seminar focusing on ASD and to observe a social skills summer camp designed for children with these disabilities.

About The Help Group

Founded in 1975, The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprehensive nonprofit organization in the United States serving children with special needs related to autism, Asperger’s Disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, mental retardation, abuse and emotional problems. The Help Group’s six specialized day schools offer pre-K through high school programs for more than 1,100 students. The Help Group’s wide range of mental health and therapy services, child abuse, foster family and residential programs extend its reach to more than 5,000 children and their families each year. With over 700 staff members, The Help Group’s state-of-the-art schools and programs are located on four major campuses in the Los Angeles area. The Help Group serves 500 students ages three to 22 with Autism Spectrum Disorders on a daily basis and offers diagnostic assessments, intervention, family support, after-school social skills programs and summer day camps. Through its professional training programs and efforts at the state and national levels, The Help Group touches the lives of children with special needs across the country and in other parts of the world. At the heart of its efforts is the commitment to helping young people fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives.

Media Contact:

Deb Smith-Roges

(310) 305-2989

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