M.S. in Education | Autism Endorsement Curriculum

Students interested in pursuing an autism endorsement are required to complete a 4-course master's series in autism.

This course focuses on providing information and discussion about the major social, behavioral, communication, and learning characteristics of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Theories as to etiology and prevalence will be discussed and researched. Screening and diagnostic tools used to identify individuals with ASD will be reviewed. A variety of discipline-specific tools and strategies to assist in educational planning will be reviewed. Methods for adapting assessment strategies to better evaluate individuals with ASD will be discussed. The role of the parents in the assessment process and methods to share assessment information with them will be studied. Field experience is embedded into the course through observations of individuals with ASD and interviews with families.

This course focuses on review of research-based interventions from classroom structure and organization through application and assessment of intervention strategies. Interventions designed to ameliorate deficits in the areas of academics, communication, learning readiness, independence, social skills, and behavior will be highlighted. The class will also focus on accommodations and modifications needed to include individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the general education curriculum. The role of collaboration among school personnel, with families and community agencies to advocate and promote for the success of the student with ASD will be addressed. Students will participate in field work through designing classroom environments, developing Individual Education Program (IEP) goals and a teaching plan for a student, implementing an intervention, collecting and analyzing data from the intervention, and presenting it to the class.

Students will focus on assessment and intervention strategies for addressing challenging behaviors in the classroom, at home, and in the community for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Students will learn to generate hypotheses about the functions of challenging behavior as they relate to communication skills and identify positive behavioral support strategies to implement to replace the negative behaviors. Positive behavioral support, functional behavioral assessment, functional communication training, and other more traditional behavior management strategies will be discussed. Students will participate in a field experience that involves completing a functional assessment through direct and indirect assessment and developing a positive behavioral support plan based on that assessment.

Communication is one of the most significant deficits for most individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This course will focus on the nature of the language and communication difficulties and methods for remediating them using high and low levels of technology. Research supporting the use of a variety of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), language facilitation, and assistive technology to support communication development will be discussed. The role of assistive technology in language facilitation, teaching literacy, and providing a method for communication for children who are nonverbal will be reviewed. Students will complete field experiences.

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