Senator Mary Easley
Senate District 18
Mayes, Tulsa and Wagoner counties
For Immediate Release: February 11, 2008
Sen. Mary Easley
Senate Education Committee Passes Easley Bill On Autism Professional
The Senate Education Committee passed legislation
Monday that would encourage school districts to include a special
emphasis on autism as part of any professional development program
on special education that may be provided to teachers in the district.
Senate Bill 1686 is authored by State Senator Mary
Easley, D-Tulsa, and will now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Senator Easley said she is particularly passionate about this piece
of legislation because autism personally touches her life every
day through interaction with a special family member.
“There are many children out there who don’t have the
same kind of help we are able to give our family member,”
Easley said. “We want to do something to help these children
and their families as well as give Oklahoma teachers as many tools
necessary to help these wonderful children.’
Rene’ Daman, director of the Oklahoma Autism Network, said
one in every 150 children will be diagnosed with some form of autism,
making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS
Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems
with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive,
or severely limited activities and interests. These behaviors can
range in impact from mild to disabling. Scientists aren’t
sure what causes autism and there is no cure.
“There is an absolute need for this kind of help,”
Daman said. “We get a lot of calls from families seeking help
for their child. Everyone in the schools, from administrators to
bus drivers needs to have a basic understanding of autism. This
will help them have a better understanding of the child and the
type of support they need to be successful.”
Stephanie Canada, a physical education teacher from Shawnee and
Oklahoma’s reigning Teacher of the Year, said she supports
Senator Easley’s bill.
“Any professional development to help us better facilitate
learning for a child is helpful, especially the autistic child,”
For more information contact:
Senator Easley's Office: (405) 521-5590