Over the last two decades, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, has become a more frequent diagnosis among children in the United States and it’s a diagnosis that crosses racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic divides. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 59 children is diagnosed with ASD compared with one in 150 children in the year 2000.
What this means for parents, educators, and for communities is that there are many more children in the classroom who have been identified as having special needs and who need specialized help. Teachers and aides may need to help these students process material in a different way so that they can learn it better, or they may need to help students manage their emotions or learn social skills to better interact with their peers and the world around them.
The growing incidence of ASD and the increased awareness of what these students need to be successful in the classroom has created demand for teachers and professionals who are trained to work with children with autism, specifically. If you are a teacher or professional who is likely to work with children who have ASD, you may want to consider getting more education to become a certified autism specialist.
What Does a Certified Autism Specialist Do?
An autism specialist is someone who works with children who are diagnosed with ASD, which can include a range of behaviors and challenges. Not all children who have been diagnosed on the spectrum behave the same way or struggle with the same issues. Some children with ASD may have extreme sensory processing issues, such as reacting negatively to loud noises or unpleasant smells. Others may have difficulty with social interactions, such as being able to process another’s emotions or using appropriate manners. Children with ASD can have mild or severe neurological challenges.
Autism specialists who get an advanced autism certification learn the specific skills necessary to work with these children and help them meet their goals. They can provide therapy or assistance in a classroom, private counseling, or even at home. For example, Dr. David Rago, the academic program director of the Graduate Certificate in Autism program at National University, said that an autism specialist could help those on the autism spectrum learn social skills through modeling.
“It could be learning about visual modeling or peer training, so if there’s a specific behavior or social interaction that the student needs to learn, like how to take turns, they could use visual modeling. It could also be in person, in real time, what it looks like to take turns,” he says.
Autism specialists also work with other students who are in the same classroom. For example, they might teach the other students about the challenges that autistic students face and what they can do to have improved interactions. The specialist might teach these students how to model behaviors for autistic students. “They would interact with a student with autism in a way that would prompt positive behavior,” Rago says.
Teaching autistic students these skills and teaching other students how to support them can help autistic students to be more successful in the classroom, have improved interactions with their peers, and later perform better in the job market.
Where do Autism Specialists Work?
Typically, autism specialists work in educational settings, such as public and private K-12 classrooms. Students with ASD may be placed in a specific, special education classroom, or they may be a part of a general education classroom and get special assistance from an aide. They may also be sent to a special class for part of the day where they receive additional help.
Certified autism specialists work in any of these settings, either as specialized teachers, general education teachers who can offer specialized instruction for autistic students or assistants in the classroom.
Other professionals can also become autism specialists to get the credentials necessary to work with ASD children. For example, Rago says that private therapists may choose to become specialists in this field, or social workers who have clients with ASD or clients who have children with ASD may want to get this certification. Private aides may also find it helpful to get the certification; these professionals focus not on teaching ASD children, but on supporting their social, emotional, and behavioral needs.
Most people who work with individuals on the autism spectrum are not required to have special training or certification in autism. Typically, teachers have a certification in teaching or in special education. Other professionals who may work with autistic individuals may be trained primarily as psychologists, behavioral therapists, personal aides, or family counselors, for example. Each of these professions has its own requirements for practice, which do not necessarily take into consideration working with an autistic population.
According to Rago, getting an autism certification can help teachers and other professionals open up new job opportunities and make them more marketable to potential employers. Teachers can qualify for more jobs by showing that they are trained to work with autistic students, who are a growing part of the student population; other professionals can attract more clients by showing that they are educated on the special needs of autistic children.
Becoming a Certified Autism Specialist
To become a certified autism specialist, you need to get additional education on the specific needs of individuals with ASD, as well as on the most effective therapeutic strategies to help them, including their educational, behavioral, social, and emotional needs.
National University is one of the top San Diego universities and colleges offering this certification. The Graduate Certificate in Autism at National University consists of four courses, which can each be completed in four weeks. The courses are designed to be taken sequentially, so the program can be finished in as little as four months, making it especially convenient for working professionals to complete.
“This program, in particular, is designed for teachers who have some special education electives and are working with children who have special needs,” Rago says. “First, the program gives them a foundational understanding of what autism is and what it looks like in students, and then it gives them the practical methods and strategies to address their needs.”
Rago says the program teaches students how to design lessons and curriculum to meet the particular learning needs of students with ASD, as well as strategies to help them overcome their emotional and social challenges.
The program at National University includes a mix of online classes and in-person autism training in the field, such as in local classrooms and with local families. The additional focus on working with and supporting the families of children with autism is one of the components that sets the program at National University apart. The classes offer instruction through videos, case studies, and other materials.
“I think it’s a good program, a strong program, as it does give people who have their special ed license a more in-depth look at behaviors of those who have specific academic and social needs,” Rago says. “It also gives the historical perspective that sometimes you don’t get in classes when you’re working toward a special ed license.”
Rago points out that the program at National University also distinguishes itself with its timeline. He said that many other programs that offer the autism certification require more courses, or they don’t allow students to finish the courses online.
“At National, it’s possible for teachers who are being asked to get it by their district to get it done in one school year,” he says.
Another way that the National University program distinguishes itself is in the quality and experience of the instructors hired to teach the courses. “The instructors who teach the courses are people actually in the field and are professionals who work with people and families with autism,” Rago says. “A couple of them have published books on strategies of working with people with autism. The background and the experience of the instructors add to the experience our students get.”
Career Outcomes for an Autism Specialist
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that special education teachers make a median salary of ranging from $55,840 for special ed preschool teachers to $60,600 for special ed teachers working at the secondary school level. (In California, it ranges from $47,870 at the preschool level to $82,380 at the secondary school level.) The BLS does not track information on autism specialists, specifically, but these professionals are counted among special education teachers and the bureau estimates that the number of jobs will grow by 8% percent between 2016 and 2026..
In practice, professionals who are classified as a certified autism specialist likely make more money than special education teachers. Rago says that the majority of people who enroll in the program at National University are already credentialed as special education teachers. By getting that extra autism training, they are increasing their marketability and are likely to get paid a larger salary.
“Somebody with a special ed license can work with students with autism in a special education setting,” Rago says. “But most of the schools – and this is specific to California because that is where the certificate is approved – if you’re going to be in a classroom specific to autism, they would like to see that you have some specialized training in addition to your general ed license.”
Rago advises that completing the autism certification makes a professional more attractive to employers and opens up additional career paths. Teachers may decide they want to go into clinical settings, or they can use the certification to segue into private practice. Pursuing those different career opportunities can give them leverage to negotiate higher salaries, as well.
With the growing rate of ASD diagnoses, you can be sure that you will have a wide variety of job opportunities for a long time to come. By getting the autism certification, you can distinguish yourself from other candidates, which will make you more competitive for jobs and give you more leverage to negotiate a higher salary.
Graduate Autism Certificate at National University
The Graduate Autism Certificate at National University is open to everyone. Credentialed teachers can complete the program to enhance their knowledge for practice in the classroom. (Credentialed teachers are encouraged to talk with a Credential Program Specialist to create a plan to get the most they can out of the program.)
Social workers, nurses, those who work in child development, and other professionals can also enroll in the program as a form of continuing education to help them better meet the needs of children and people with ASD they may work with in their practice. Students are issued a certificate upon completion of the program, proving their advanced autism training.
Those who complete the certification program at National University program will be able to:
- Know the history of the terms used for Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Know state and federal regulations regarding children with autism.
- Know the landmark legislation and judicial decisions regarding children with autism.
- Confidently identify the behaviors and characteristics that a child with autism displays.
- Use behavioral analysis and techniques to help manage and change the behaviors of children with autism.
- Identify appropriate evidence-based strategies for working with children with autism, and select the best strategy for the needs of a particular child.
- Organize a structured classroom for children with autism. Work with the families of children with ASD, including providing support for them.
With monthly-start classes and year-round enrollment available, so you can begin your education to become a certified autism specialist any time you’re ready. If you are located in California, you can opt to take classes in person. Online courses can be taken on your schedule, but in-person courses are offered on a specific schedule.
National University offers financial aid for those who need it, and the school is military-friendly, with special discounts available for service members and their dependents. The school also offers support and resources to help all students be successful in their program of study, as well as in finding career opportunities after finishing their programs.
What qualifications do you need to be an autism specialist? ›
As we mentioned above, you can also pick a more general but related degree such as childhood development, child psychology, psychology, or counselling. After completing this degree, you can then complete additional specialist training which focuses on autism and how to become a Certified Autism Specialist.What degree is best for autism? ›
Autism program specialists need to have specialized knowledge and experience in ASD and at least a master's or bachelor's degree in education, psychology, social work or human services.What is an autism expert? ›
An autism specialist is someone who works with children who are diagnosed with ASD, which can include a range of behaviors and challenges. Not all children who have been diagnosed on the spectrum behave the same way or struggle with the same issues.How do I become an autism specialist in Texas? ›
Applicants must have earned a Master's degree in special education, education, educational psychology, psychology, human development, early childhood education, speech/language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work, or related field, combined with 2 years of experience in the field – or, must ...Do you need a degree to work with autistic kids? ›
What is Required: While a bachelor's degree in special education or a related topic is enough for some employers, others require a a master's degree or higher. To practice as an autism spectrum disorder specialist, one must become board certified by passing the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.Who can administer the ADOS? ›
Anyone with a master's degree (MA, MS, MSW, CAGS) in psychology, school counseling, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, social work, education, special education, or a related field can administer the ADOS-2 if properly trained.What jobs are autistic people good at? ›
People with autism can excel in careers such as forensic accountant, CPA, tax preparation specialist, bookkeeper, billing specialist and accounts payable clerk. Shipping and logistics. The freight hauling and logistics industry offers many different types of jobs.What are autistic people good at? ›
Autistic people may display a range of strengths and abilities that can be directly related to their diagnosis, including: Learning to read at a very early age (known as hyperlexia). Memorising and learning information quickly. Thinking and learning in a visual way.What is autism Level 2 mean? ›
ASD Level 2 – In the mid-range of ASD is Level 2. In this level, individuals require substantial support and have problems that are more readily obvious to others. These issues may be trouble with verbal communication, having very restricted interests, and exhibiting frequent, repetitive behaviors.What is autism training? ›
The course explores how those areas of difference might impact an individual. It will make you aware of the importance of understanding autism and give you knowledge of the diagnostic process. You will also learn how to provide effective, individualised support and benefit from practical supportive strategies.
Can an OT diagnose autism? ›
Can occupational therapists diagnose Autism? Within the occupational therapy scope of practice, Occupational therapists cannot diagnose Autism. Please speak with your pediatrician if you believe your child has Autism or would like your child to be tested for Autism.Can a psychologist diagnose autism? ›
Psychologists can play an important role diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and helping people cope with and manage the associated challenges. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects behavior, communication and social functioning.What is an autism advisory teacher? ›
Support from the Autism Advisory Team is for schools that have children/young people whom are not making progress within the context of what is “Ordinarily Available” for children and young people on the Autism Spectrum as well as those transferring from nursery to reception and Year 6 to Secondary School.Is autism a disability in Texas? ›
Conditions like autism are recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as potentially disabling and may be able to qualify you or your child for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits through one of both of the SSA's disability programs.Is autism covered under Section 504? ›
Major life activities include caring for one's self, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks, and learning. Thus, many individuals on the autism spectrum are protected under Section 504 .How do I get a job on the spectrum for kids? ›
- Be consistent. ...
- Stick to a schedule. ...
- Reward good behavior. ...
- Create a home safety zone. ...
- Look for nonverbal cues. ...
- Figure out the motivation behind the tantrum. ...
- Make time for fun. ...
- Pay attention to your child's sensory sensitivities.
- Presentation – good hygiene, neat appearance.
- Time Management.
- Organizational Skills.
- Decision Making.
- Ability to work independently.
The assessment of autism tends to be conducted at child development centres or by child and adolescent mental health services by professionals such as paediatricians, psychologists, speech and language therapists or psychiatrists.How much does an ADOS assessment cost? ›
How much does it cost? Diagnostic assessments cost £375 (for SpLD), and well over £1000 (for autism). However, we ask students to contribute a payment of £95 only. Once payment has been received, we will contact you to offer you an appointment for an assessment.How long does it take to do the ADOS? ›
The ADOS assessment typically takes between 45 minutes to 1 hour in length and is always followed by meeting with the parents to collect more information.
What is the difference between ADOS and ADOS-2? ›
The ADOS/-2 (ADOS = first version of the instrument, ADOS-2 = second version, and ADOS/-2 is used here when both versions are referred to) is an internationally well-established diagnostic instrument that consists of four (ADOS-2 = 5, respectively) modules to be administered based on the individuals' level of ...Can I claim benefits for autism? ›
Disability Living Allowance
DLA is a non-diagnosis specific benefit, so having a diagnosis of autism will not automatically lead to an award, but many children on the autism spectrum do qualify for the benefit. It is also entirely non-means-tested, so your income and savings are not taken into account.
If someone in your family has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be more likely to have a child with ASD. ASD can look very different from person to person, so taking a careful family health history can be important for early diagnosis.Can I join the military with autism? ›
According to the U.S. Air Force Medical Standards Directory, Autism Spectrum Disorder is not disqualifying for continued military service unless it is currently--or has a history of--compromising military duty or training.What are the weaknesses of autism? ›
- social phobia.
- excessive worry/rumination.
- obsessive compulsive behaviour.
- hyper-vigilance, or seeming “shell shocked”
- avoidance behaviours.
- rigid routines and resistance to change.
- stimming and/or self-injurious behaviour.
As of 2013, Asperger Syndrome and High-functioning autism are no longer terms used by the American Psychological Association, and have instead both been merged into autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Is having autism a gift? ›
Autism isn't always a superpower. Celebrating differences is great, but it's important to remember that many on the spectrum do not see their autism as a gift. Many autistics will never live independently nor learn to communicate, verbally or not.What is a Level 1 autistic? ›
Level 1 is the mildest, or “highest functioning” form of autism, which includes those who would have previously been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. Individuals with ASD level 1 may have difficulty understanding social cues and may struggle to form and maintain personal relationships.What does Level 3 autism Look Like? ›
Also known as level 3 autism, it often means a person is nonverbal or has very limited speech and restricted social communication skills. Severe autism also often comes with sensory processing issues and extreme difficulty dealing with changes in routine.Are you born with autism? ›
Autism is not an illness
It means your brain works in a different way from other people. It's something you're born with. Signs of autism might be noticed when you're very young, or not until you're older. If you're autistic, you're autistic your whole life.
Is there a degree in autism? ›
“The MSc in ASD is aimed at professionals working in education, health and social care, with a specific focus on autism spectrum and special needs. The course is suitable for anyone who works with children, adolescents and/or adults on the autism spectrum.Are there any courses on autism? ›
This free course, Understanding autism, introduces the autism spectrum, how it is experienced by different individuals and families, and why it is a global concern. The course explains how ideas about autism have evolved and explores diagnosis, causes, intervention and life-span development.Is autism a disability? ›
Autism is a neurological developmental disability with an estimated prevalence of one to two percent of the American and worldwide population. The diversity of the disability means that each person's individual experience of autism and needs for supports and services can vary widely.What are the 5 different types of autism? ›
There are five major types of autism which include Asperger's syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Kanner's syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified.At what age does autism appear? ›
The behavioral symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often appear early in development. Many children show symptoms of autism by 12 months to 18 months of age or earlier. Some early signs of autism include: Problems with eye contact.Is occupational therapy the same as ABA? ›
OT focuses on helping children learn new skills through play. ABA focuses on helping children learn new skills through changing their behavior. ABA uses mostly shaping and chaining to help children reach their goals. OT uses a variety of treatment strategies to help children reach their goals.Can you be a doctor with autism? ›
The limiting reality factor to completing medical school and residency, then functioning as a physician, would be the extent of the underlying disability. With autism, for example, the disability can range from severe (low functioning) to minor (high functioning).Can a masters level clinician diagnose autism? ›
Professionals such as teachers, therapists, and counselors can recommend a screening, but that can not officially diagnose. An autism specialist refers to the DSM-5, a mental and neurological disorder guideline where certain criteria must be met for a diagnosis in children and adults.What are signs of autism in females? ›
- inability to look at or listen to people.
- no response to their name.
- resistance to touching.
- a preference for being alone.
- inappropriate or no facial gestures.
- inability to start a conversation or keep one going.
The government states that eligible children must have a disability which is severe and prolonged – continuous for a period of at least 12 months – which of course, is true for those affected by autism.
What is Texas autism Grant? ›
All Texas local education agencies (LEAs) are eligible to apply for grant funding to increase their capacity to implement innovative programs that effectively serve students with autism ages three through 21. LEAs may apply individually or in collaboration with other districts or open-enrollment charter schools.How much does an autistic child get in SSI? ›
So, how much is a disability check for autism? There isn't a simple answer to this question because every child and their parents will be treated as an individual case, and this will impact how much they receive each month. Currently, the full benefit amount is $841 a month.What should I ask for in an IEP for autism? ›
- Should my child be in a mainstream or special education class? ...
- Should he/she be partially or fully mainstreamed?
- What transition plan should be in place for mainstreaming?
- What type of special education class would be ideal?
- Using a "sensory diet" throughout day.
- Providing seat cushion for attention and postural control.
- Providing slant board for desk work.
- Allow student to stand (if necessary) to complete work.
These ideas and strategies can help you build your child's social skills:
- practice play.
- social skills training.
- social stories.
- visual supports.
Is Autism a Disability?
Is Autism a Disability & Can Someone Receive Disability Benefits for ...
Autism and Social Security Disability
- Be a registered healthcare professional.
- Have at least 1 year of experience in assessing and supporting neurodiverse children.
- Be trained in using ADOS or ADI-r.
- Have a strong commitment to improving the experience of neurodiverse people.
Our courses help people get jobs, such as; Teaching Assistant, School Receptionist, Early Years Practitioner, SEN Teaching Assistant and more.Can a therapist diagnose autism? ›
Professionals such as teachers, therapists, and counselors can recommend a screening, but that can not officially diagnose. An autism specialist refers to the DSM-5, a mental and neurological disorder guideline where certain criteria must be met for a diagnosis in children and adults.How can I work with autism? ›
- Provide Clear Directions. ...
- Bring in Outside Support. ...
- Provide Reasonable Accommodations. ...
- Educate and Train Other Employees. ...
- Designate a Mentor or Buddy. ...
- Provide Consistent, Constructive Feedback.
What is ADOS or ADI R training? ›
About the ADI-R Training
The Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised (ADI-R) is considered to be one of the gold standard clinical diagnostic instruments for assessing autism in children and adults. The ADI-R provides a diagnostic algorithm for autism as described in both the ICD and DSM.
- a GP.
- a health visitor (for children under 5)
- any other health professional you or your child see, such as another doctor or therapist.
- special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) staff at your child's school.
The course explores how those areas of difference might impact an individual. It will make you aware of the importance of understanding autism and give you knowledge of the diagnostic process. You will also learn how to provide effective, individualised support and benefit from practical supportive strategies.What is severe autism Level 3? ›
ASD level 3 is characterized by severe challenges in social communication as well as extremely inflexible behavior. Children with level 3 autism will be nonverbal or have the use of only a few words of intelligible speech. Initiation of social interaction is very limited, as well as response to others.What is a Level 2 qualification in autism? ›
The free distance learning Level 2 Understanding Autism in a Health Care Setting course is aimed at developing a learners understanding of what is meant by “autism”, theories and diagnosis, developing an understanding of legislation, guidance and support networks available to individuals and their families.What is autism level1? ›
Children at this level have severe deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills that cause severe impairments in functioning, very limited initiation of social interactions, and minimal response to social overtures from others.Who is the best person to diagnose autism? ›
If your child shows any symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, you'll likely be referred to a specialist who treats children with autism spectrum disorder, such as a child psychiatrist or psychologist, pediatric neurologist, or developmental pediatrician, for an evaluation.What are the 5 types of autism? ›
There are five major types of autism which include Asperger's syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Kanner's syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified.What are the 3 main symptoms of autism? ›
Main signs of autism
finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling. getting very anxious about social situations. finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own.
Strategies to consider include distraction, diversion, helping the person use calming strategies such as fiddle toys or listening to music, removing any potential triggers, and staying calm yourself.
What are autistic people good at? ›
Autistic people may display a range of strengths and abilities that can be directly related to their diagnosis, including: Learning to read at a very early age (known as hyperlexia). Memorising and learning information quickly. Thinking and learning in a visual way.What jobs are autistic people good at? ›
People with autism can excel in careers such as forensic accountant, CPA, tax preparation specialist, bookkeeper, billing specialist and accounts payable clerk. Shipping and logistics. The freight hauling and logistics industry offers many different types of jobs.