Part of the fun of directing a nonprofit organization is allowing its impact, versus its bottom line, to be a derivative of success. Good Friend, Inc., co-founder Denise Schamens and I take most of our salary as kudos and compliments, thanks and hugs; they are far more valuable than dollars and cents. By investing ourselves in personal and professional development, we can multiply our resources so as to divide them equitably between home (since we're both parents of students with ASD) and work.
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) graciously offers quality learning opportunities to anyone who interacts with students with autism in the state. From free downloadable webinars to two-day continuing education seminars conducted in various locations in the state, there's something for everyone -- from the parent of a recently-diagnosed kindergartener to the program support teacher who wants to know more about functional behavior assessment (FBA). Don't see something close enough to your area? Check with your Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) to see if they have any offerings.
Not from Wisconsin but still want resources? Those links are there, too; a couple of the best being Autism Internet Modules and The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Even if your school foregoes Good Friend's staff in-service, there are plenty of places to go for specific learning about this population of students who deserve to be taught with expertise and treated with understanding. As I'm sure Wisconsin educators are aware, this week begins the Seclusion and Restraint legislation passed as 2011 Wis. Act 125, which prohibits the involuntary separation of a student from his or her peers and the use of physical restraint, except in specific cases of imminent risk of bodily harm. If ever there was a time to realize that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (and a looming lawsuit), this is certainly it.
Three cheers for the lifelong learners among us! Hip hip hooray! Have a wonderful 2012-'13 school year, and do say "hello" if we're at a training together!