Innovative Policy 2020 on Inclusive Education and ICT

A municipal-level Pilot project towards continuous schooling of children with autism

This pilot-project of the City of Vienna is geared towards all compulsory education facilities in the country state to achieve a continuous and successful school process for children with autism. While the policy focuses on training teachers, there is also a strong emphasis on supporting and counselling parents. Individual solutions are created for each child, in accordance with the Basic Law on Equal Treatment and the Federal Disability Equality Act. Since 2015, the number of children with autism who complete compulsory schooling has increased from 50 per cent to 95 per cent.

“”I learned how to behave in a way that others understand me better.”

ChristopherA pupil with autism
About the policy at a glance
Laws and regulations involved:Children with autism pilot-project
Responsible Body:City of Vienna, Bildungsdirektion (DOE)
Country
of Implementation
Austria/ City of Vienna
Start Year2015

FACTS & FIGURES

  • In 2019, 550 children with autism received support in primary school and 230 in secondary school.
  • There are currently ten mentors supporting approximately 1,000 teachers in the Vienna school system.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

For a long time, children with autism were excluded from regular school attendance because the schools lacked competence in pedagogical diagnostics and professional handling.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

The policy is an initiative of the Department of Education of the City of Vienna (Bildungsdirektion fuer Wien), implementing the Federal Disability Equality Act. Begun in 2015, children with autism were significantly involved in the project’s design, and they were able to communicate their needs and wishes for a learning environment in which they could develop.

The policy uses a holistic approach involving key actors both within institutions of education (e.g., teachers) and outside such institutions (e.g., families, therapeutic professionals). From kindergarten onwards, children are accompanied through all systemic transitions by trained teachers and by mentors who work in and outside class and who assist parents with out-of-school issues, such as therapies.

In school, there are special learning materials such as visual aids and cards with written tasks to facilitate communication, and mentors work with regular teachers on the best ways to facilitate the inclusion of children with autism. Around 1,000 teachers in the entire Vienna school system are accompanied and supported by ten mentors.

Since the project’s start in 2015, more than 800 children with autism have benefitted.

Two boys with blue headphones sit on chairs, while the rest of children are standing in a circle.

A variety of special learning materials such as visual aids and cards and assistive technologies is used in school

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

The personnel cost of the mentors is spread over several organizations, including the Department of Education (DoE), Fonds Soziales Wien (a public funding agency and service provider), and the Austrian Autism Aid Organization (an NGO).

The DoE is currently working on three objectives for the future: the creation of a legal basis for the implementation of equalization of disadvantaged groups (which is currently not available to children with autism) or a binding decree by the Education Directorate for all types of schools; the further opening of secondary schools; and networking to enable education up to the age of 18.

FACTSHEET

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LINKS AND FURTHER READING