Saga colleges to train development disorder experts

Kyodo

Five colleges in Saga Prefecture will introduce a joint program in April to educate nursery teachers about developmental disorders to support such children at an early stage, their officials said Wednesday.

Those who earn the required number of credits for courses, including child health, support for children’s families and practical work, will be designated as “teachers to support child development” and will be expected to lead approaches to the issue.

Developmental disorders, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities, are believed to be caused by functional failures in the brain. Around 7.7 percent of pupils attending regular classes at public elementary schools are said to suffer such disorders, according to the education ministry.

About 330 students in total graduate as nursery teachers annually from the five colleges, including state-run Saga University, and they aim to train 100 experts in the field.

“We expect those who complete the joint program to work as interfaces between nursery and elementary schools, which sometimes share information on children’s treatment and education insufficiently,” said Takaaki Sonoda, a professor at Saga University who supervises the program.