In 2005, several faculty members of West Chester University of PA met to discuss the need for and probability of offering a certificate in autism studies. Since that first meeting, faculty members from the departments of Early Childhood & Special Education, Communicative Disorders, Psychology, and Kinesiology have collaborated in the development of an interdisciplinary, empirically-based certificate in autism studies. The university is now proud to offer the Certificate of Specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders. This Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program is geared towards community members who currently work with, or will work with, individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The 18-credit certificate provides students with the skill sets necessary to build and work within an interdisciplinary approach to effective and empirically-based treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Students learn strategies for implementing the interdisciplinary approach, as well as methods to assess the effectiveness of the approach, i.e. the effect of education/treatment on the person's quality of life. The program is be provided from the view point of several disciplines including psychology, special education, communicative disorders, and kinesiology.
The mission of this program is to provide professionals, parents, and other members of the community access to empirically validated educational approaches for teaching persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), strategies for implementing these approaches, as well as methods to assess the effectiveness of these approaches, i.e. the effect of education/treatment on the person's quality of life.
The autism certificate program is based on the following assumptions:
-People with ASD and their families have a wide range of disability-specific strengths and needs
-Assessment and intervention must be based on evidence-based practices
-Professionals who specialize in the treatment of individuals with ASD must understand the ASD profile, its history, and the challenges faced by families of individuals with ASD
-Professional who support individuals with ASD must collaborate with each other
-Specialization in autism requires course work, guided observation, and supervised clinical practicum