Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Teacher and student in classroomNew findings indicate that autism affects an average of one in 68 children in the United States. Characterized by a wide range of symptoms that affect an individual's behaviors and interests, social interaction and communication, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is gaining increasing prominence as numbers of those affected appear to be growing rapidly.

Wheelock's Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is approved by the state of Massachusetts for official endorsement by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). This means that early childhood, elementary, and special needs licensed teachers who successfully complete the 5-course program will receive endorsement language on their transcript—a valuable credential for those working in the field of education!

Massachusetts endorsement in autism was created to help educators meet the unique and complex educational needs of students on the autism spectrum. Though not a state requirement for teacher licensure at this time, school principals may prioritize candidates for employment who have earned the endorsement over others.

Wheelock's 5-course Autism certificate reflects a multidisciplinary approach and includes a 150-hour practicum. It is open to all educators who have a license in all categories of special education, as well as to those who have earned an early childhood or elementary teaching license.

Applicants with a bachelor's degree from other fields (social work, psychology, child life or family studies) who do not have a teaching license but are interested in learning more about autism can take the 4 courses without the practicum that leads to endorsement for licensed educators.

This graduate certificate focuses on the issues surrounding ASD from multiple disciplines, including social work, special education, and health-related fields. You will explore current evidence-based practices to improve the quality of experiences of individuals with ASD and their families across their lifespan and within multiple settings (home, school, healthcare settings, and work). For example, the strengths-based, or competency-based approach is one of many research-supported practices that you will take into account as you learn how to assist individuals with ASD in developing skills in self-determination, social interaction, and communication.

This program is approved to advance (when all other state requirements are met) an initial license in the following fields: Elementary (1-6), Early Childhood Teacher of Students with or without Disabilities (PreK-2), or Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8).

Autism Certificate Applicant Requirements

Applicants to the certificate program must hold a bachelor's or master's degree. Those holding an undergraduate degree in a field not related to psychology, social work, education, or special education, must seek advance permission from the program coordinator.

Wheelock's 5-course Autism endorsement certificate program (which includes a 150-hour practicum) can only be awarded to educators who hold one of the following licenses at either the initial or professional level:

  • Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8; 5-12)
  • Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities (All)
  • Teacher of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (All)
  • Teacher of the Visually Impaired (All)

Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)/Endorsement Program

The program includes the following courses, which emphasize culturally relevant, strengths-based, and evidence-informed approaches:

AUT 515: Autism: Foundation and Characteristics (3 credits)
AUT 525: Autism: Assessment and Intervention (3 credits)
AUT 535: Autism: Positive Behavior Supports through Collaboration and Coordination (3 credits)
AUT 545: Autism: Programs, Services and Supports for Building Social Communication and Interaction (3 credits)
AUP 550: Autism Practicum and Seminar (3 credits)

Why Wheelock?

Wheelock College has led the way in promoting best practices for working with children and families for more than 125 years. Wheelock is widely recognized for its outstanding early childhood education, social work, and human development and family studies programs. Faculty from these programs possess a wide range of expertise as well as a commitment to cross-disciplinary education and practice.

Credits earned through this certificate program may be applied to several master's degree programs at Wheelock.

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