Facing an increasing number of students with autism, the state of California is sending thousands of long-time special educators back to the classroom to learn about the developmental disorder.

Under a new requirement, some 25,000 special education teachers in California must complete autism training by July 2011 in order to work with children who have the disorder. For many veteran teachers, the mandated training will be the first formal introduction they’ve had to the diagnosis.

Experts say the training is important because many teachers don’t know the signs of autism and are not familiar with how to best interact with a child on the autism spectrum.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Teachers will undergo varying levels of training depending on their prior experience, officials say. Some teachers may need a one-day course or field work while others will participate in a 10-week training program.

New teachers already receive autism training during their regular coursework, reports The (Riverside, Calif.) Press-Enterprise. To read more click here.