Wheelock’s Autism Certificate Receives State Endorsement

August 14, 2017

Teacher and student in classroomWheelock College's Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been 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!

Autism is not a rare disorder.  According to the Center for Disease Control (2014), 1 in every 68 children is diagnosed with Autism.  While 4.5 times more likely to occur in boys, autism affects children from all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups in the US.

"With the increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism, it is critical for educators who work in special education and inclusionary settings to have the skills and experience to meet the needs of children with autism," said Ryan Lovell, Wheelock College Educator Preparation Licensure Officer. "Those who complete the certificate program are recognized by the state for having acquired specialized knowledge and skill in this area."

It's important to remember that children with autism are not all alike.  Some suffer from mild disabilities in speech and language while others do not speak at all or have serious developmental disorders. Dr. Temple Grandin, an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University, who is autistic, offers advice to educators based on her own experiences as a child with autism. For Grandin, structure was very important.  She benefited enormously from learning social behaviors such as turn-taking and manners. She had difficulty understanding long strings of language and preferred directions in 3 steps. She learned more through pictures than words. Grandin reminds educators that some children with autism experience sound sensitivity or react negatively to fluorescent lights (Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism, 2002). Simple solutions such as affixing tennis balls to classroom chairs or using newer light bulbs can help a child with autism navigate the classroom.

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 four courses without the practicum that leads to endorsement for licensed educators.

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

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 and Communication and Interaction (3 credits)
AUP 550: Autism Practicum and Seminar (3 credits)

Learn more at wheelock.edu/graduate

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