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Autism Specialist Program:

This program consists of 5 graduate level courses including a 3-credit practicum and seminar, for a total of 15 credits and is designed to address the complex needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a variety of school settings, across age and grade levels, and ranges of academic and behavioral functioning. The first two courses in the sequence center around disability policy, practices, and the skills related to the research- based intervention required to deliver effective instruction to students identified with Autism. The second two courses focus on student assessment and individualized program development and the roles of educators, family members, friends, and related service providers who support individuals with ASD throughout the lifespan.

There are two tracks for this Graduate Certificate program. One is designed to meet the standards and competency requirements for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Autism Endorsement. Autism Endorsement candidates must hold one of the following licenses: An Initial or Professional license as Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities, Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities, Teacher of Visually Impaired, Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The second track is designed for students to receive a Graduate Certificate in ASD without DESE endorsement.

Endorsement Requirements:

Licensure candidates, teachers who meet the prerequisite license requirements noted above, are required to complete a 150-hour supervised field-based experience that includes a minimum of 75 hours in an inclusive setting with students with autism and 75 hours of additional experience in any type of school setting working with students with autism. Teachers meeting the prerequisite license requirements noted above who can demonstrate at least one year of teaching experience working with students with autism shall complete at least 75 hours of field-based experience working with students with autism in any type of school setting, including at least 50 of which shall take place in an inclusive setting in lieu of meeting the field experience requirements of 150 hours. The field-based activities provide the candidate with a range of school and community assignments and responsibilities and include supervision and mentorship of a Program Supervisor and Supervising Practitioner with expertise in the endorsement area of ASD. The 16-week practicum and seminar course coincide with two of the courses, providing candidates with an increased exposure to classroom and school settings while completing assigned activities under the guidance of college faculty, program supervisors, and trained mentors.

Program Objectives

The program’s overall learning outcomes, as shown throughout the specific outcomes of individual courses, include providing teachers with the opportunity to increase their knowledge of students with autism spectrum disorders and empower them with the skills required to deliver effective instruction and meaningful assessment to this population of learners. Course assignments are designed to be practical, equipping teachers with the fundamental teaching skills, interventions, and supports needed to work with students in the critical-need area of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Candidates who complete this program will link current research of ASD into practice and will learn to use analysis and data to inform instruction within their own unique teaching environment. Our specific program objectives include:

  • To provide an evidenced-based graduate specialized program in teaching children with Autism Spectrum Disorders who have unique learning and behavioral needs.

  • To meet or exceed the standards for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Autism Endorsement.

  • To provide the candidates with opportunities to experience, prepare, and model a variety of teaching and learning strategies for students on the Autism Spectrum.

  • To prepare candidates to work within an interdisciplinary approach with educators, medical professionals, and related service providers

  • To ensure that candidates are trained to offer the highest quality, evidence-based services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and for their families across the lifespan