A pair of congressman are pushing for legislation to dramatically enhance training for educators who teach students with autism.

A bill introduced in Congress late last week would establish a five-year federal grant program to allow school districts to team with universities and nonprofits to train general education teachers and other school staff to best support students with autism.

“We’ve learned a lot about autism spectrum disorder over the last 10 years, and over that time period the number of children diagnosed with ASD has grown dramatically,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa. who’s cosponsoring the bill along with U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va. “Consequently, it’s essential that educators are able to take advantage of our rapidly growing knowledge base — and that we increase the number of teachers trained to help autistic students.”

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

In addition to training educators, the pilot program established under the proposed legislation would also focus on parent involvement and the retention of skilled teachers to better the experience of students with the developmental disability, backers said.

Under the bill, the program would be available in school districts where at least 10 percent of special education students have an autism diagnosis. Participating schools would be required to partner with at least one university and one nonprofit with autism expertise to implement the program.

Known as the “Autism Understanding and Training In School Methodologies for Educators Act of 2012,” it’s unclear when the bill may progress in Congress.

Read more stories like this one. Sign up for Disability Scoop's free email newsletter to get the latest developmental disability news sent straight to your inbox.