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Comprehensive Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders*

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One of the greatest challenges schools and caregivers face today is the sharp rise in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Mary Baldwin College is helping to provide educators — and others seeking employment in any human services field — with comprehensive training and experiences in the field of ASD. Approved by the Virginia Autism Council, Mary Baldwin College’s Comprehensive Certificate in the Area of Autism Spectrum Disorders will help those professionals work with and provide support to individuals with ASD in schools and in the greater community.

The Virginia Autism Council will offer tuition reimbursement, up to $300 per course,for up to three courses per year for eligible students participating in this certificate program, pending available funding. Please visit the Virginia Autism Council online for more information.

The program is designed to meet the needs of teachers, paraeducators, social workers, school psychologists, school administrators, in-home service providers, behavior analysts, counselors, law enforcement workers, and parents.

*Now also available as part of an MEd program

Curriculum

Students and community members who are interested in taking the first course, but not interested in completing the full certificate program, are welcome to enroll as special students.

Please note that ED 640 is a pre-requisite course for the other courses in the sequence. ED 641 and ED 642 may be taken in any order. ED 643 is the final course in the certificate program.

All courses are offered at the graduate level; a bachelor’s degree is required. Exceptions, however, may be granted by the director of the program for undergraduate students and community members without four-year degrees on a case-by-case basis.

These courses are all offered in an online format with “real time” webinar-style class meetings.

ED 640 Characteristics and Assessment of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
3sh (graduate) This is the first of four courses in the 12-credit Autism Certificate Program. This course provides an overview of autism and related developmental disabilities across the lifespan, including Asperger’s Syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders. The course will cover assessment, diagnostic criteria and identification, characteristics, collaboration with families, an overview of educational impact and trends, transitioning to adulthood, controversial topics regarding etiology and treatment, and an overview of national and state resources.

ED 641 Communication, Language and Sensory Aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorders
3sh (graduate) This is the second of four courses in the 12-credit Autism Certificate Program. This course provides students with an overview of typical language acquisition and development as compared with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The course emphasizes the visual aspects of language learning as well as the notion of “communication as behavior” and addresses the role of assistive and augmentative communication technologies to support individuals on the Spectrum. Additionally, this course introduces students to the common sensory integration issues often associated with Autism. The course provides classroom strategies for supporting individualized sensory and communication needs of children who have Autism Spectrum Disorders, including an introduction to applied behavioral analysis techniques used for language development and collaboration with families and related service providers, as well as focusing on the importance of teaching skill-generalization across multiple settings and situations.

ED 642 Social Skills Instruction and Behavioral Strategies for Students with ASD
3sh (graduate)
This is the third of four courses in the 12-credit Autism Certificate Program. This course provides students with an overview of typical social and behavioral development as compared with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The course emphasizes the role of functional behavior assessments and applied behavioral techniques as related to addressing challenging or inappropriate behaviors that may be exhibited by persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Additionally, the course addresses social skill deficits that persons with Autism may have and provides instructional strategies and techniques to address these issues in the classroom using methods that are purposeful and individualized, including the role of peers. This course will focus on collaboration with families and related service providers, as well as the importance of teaching skill-generalization across multiple settings and situations.

ED 643 Practicum Experience: Autism Spectrum Disorders
(70) hours 3sh (graduate) This practicum experience concludes the four-course program for the 12-credit Autism Certificate. It is intended to be a culminating experience so that students have an opportunity to concretely demonstrate skills, techniques, and strategies learned in the previous three courses. This course requires that students complete a practicum experience (minimum of 70 in-class hours) in a setting that serves children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This could include a self-contained setting, and inclusive setting, or a combination of the two; the population served must be between the ages of 2 and 21, inclusive. Students who are teaching in schools will likely be able to use their own classroom setting for this requirement provided that they have regular contract with students who have autism. Students enrolled in the course will meet three times during the semester to process experiences, share ideas, and engage in inquiry-based discussion. This is in addition to ongoing on-line requirements using Blackboard.

Inquiries should be directed to Director of Graduate Teacher Education Rachel Potter, 540-887-7134. To register or enroll, please contact Lori Johnson at 540-887-7333.