UNR gets $2 million for special education training programs

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UNR gets $2 million for special education training programs

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The University of Nevada, Reno has received two grants totaling more then $2 million from the U.S. Department of Education to help fund special education graduate programs. 

The new programs will address current needs in Nevada, where public schools enroll more than 50,000 students in special education classes.

One grant will increase the number of teachers working with infants, toddlers, and pre-school age children with disabilities.

College of Education Associate Professor Shanon Taylor says the other grant will help with training teachers to perform behavior interventions.

"Sometimes when we're working with children with autism, some children may be nonverbal or they may have some language skills, but it may not be what we call functional communication. So, sometimes what children do is they're using their behaviors as a way to communicate--but they may be disruptive behaviors."

Taylor says in this type of situation, the teacher must translate what the child is trying to say through his or her behavior, a skill requiring rigorous training.

A special education teacher only takes one class on this subject. Taylor says that's not enough and that additional training would help teachers and children alike.

"You know, a lot of times, what we're taking about is the difference between a child being able to participate fully in the life of a classroom or in a school, or them being segregated or separated from activities because of their behavior."

Starting next year, UNR will offer a graduate cohort specializing in behavior intervention for teachers already working in Nevada.