With the number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) on the rise, the U.S. has great need for teachers trained to work with this very special population. The CDC estimated that in 2014, one in 59 children in the United States had been diagnosed with some form of ASD. Just 14 years prior, the estimate was one in 150 children.
Most children who’ve been diagnosed with ASD will attend the same schools and work alongside their non-ASD peers. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics indicates that only 7.4% of children with autism attend specialized schools for students with disabilities, while 91% spend all or part of their school-days within general classrooms of what the NCES classifies as “regular” schools.
Because of this inclusion, teachers who are working on special education degrees might consider an Autism Endorsement, which can be completed in conjunction with their online degree program.
What is an Autism Endorsement?
An education endorsement is designed to improve teachers’ skills when they work in complex classroom settings. The MS in Special Education with Autism Endorsement prepares teachers to:
- Understand the characteristics and causes of ASD
- Assess students, plan and evaluate instruction methods based on where they have been diagnosed on the spectrum of autism
- Create development level-appropriate classrooms to accommodate ASD students without disrupting teaching and learning for other students
- Effectively collaborate with other educators, service providers, parents and family members
One-third of Pennsylvania’s 93 state-approved universities offer Autism Endorsements for teachers, including Saint Joseph University according to the state’s Department of Education.
Saint Joseph’s University’s online Autism Endorsement Concentration provides training to teachers who want to work with children who’ve been diagnosed with ASD and their families. The program can be completed online within two years.
Pennsylvania does not require teachers to become Certified Autism Specialists in order to work with children who have been diagnosed with ASD; however, the endorsement provides a competitive edge for teachers in the job market. The endorsement tells prospective employers that you are professionally, emotionally and strategically ready to take on a diverse classroom that includes children with special needs.
Benefits of a Master’s in SPED in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is among the top 5 states offering employment opportunities for special education teachers according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ 2017 figures. Among the benefits of an endorsement in autism are:
● Prepares teachers to work with children with special needs
● Enables them to help diagnose children with autism
● Positions teachers to become Certified Autism Specialists, a national endorsement from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES)
● Rewarding in ways impossible to quantify, such as helping children affected by autism learn to communicate, socialize and live happy lives.
Autism Endorsement at Saint Joseph’s University
The program at Saint Joseph’s University online, which can be combined with Master of Science in Special Education (SPED), offers a four-course track curriculum:
● Initial diagnosis and advocacy
● Augmentative and alternative communication and socialization strategies
● Evidenced-based practices regarding assessment, interventions and instructional methodologies
● Applied behavior analysis and other behavior management approaches
These special-education courses prepare teachers to help recognize symptoms and accurately diagnose children while also helping to recommend education, communication and socialization strategies. Most importantly, the endorsement program helps educators understand the different ways children with special needs learn.
If you are interested in pursuing the Autism Endorsement program at Saint Joseph’s University click here for more information or call (866) 758-7670 today.