Johns Hopkins University Graduate Certificate in Autism

A couple of years ago I completed a Graduate Certificate in Autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders at Johns Hopkins University.  The program provides an excellent education in autism from some of the leaders in the field.  The certificate is focused on autism, whereas a Masters in Special Education only has parts of the curriculum devoted to autism.  I believe the Hopkins Graduate Certificate in Autism is an excellent program not only for professionals but would also be a great way for parents of children with autism to keep up with the latest techniques on teaching children on the autism spectrum.

In a blog post earlier this year (2009/08/22/lessons-learned-from-autism-therapy/) I wrote:  “It is tempting for parents to say, ‘I’m busy enough already,’ and hand over the reins to the head of a home program and give them complete power.  However, parents need to periodically check up on the status of the program to see how much progress is being made and to make sure they agree with the strategies and subject matter being covered.”  Parents should be a part of teaching their children so that the kids are constantly learning.

I list below the classes I took along with the course description from the web site at http://education.jhu.edu/specialeducation/certificates/autism/. There are several other classes offered in the program.

SURVEY OF AUTISM AND OTHER PERVASIVE DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS

Providing a comprehensive review of current information about autism and other pervasive developmental disorders, this course draws on research findings and clinical experience from a number of related disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, neurobiology, and pediatrics. In addition to exploring theories of causation, developmental aspects, descriptive and diagnostic characteristics, and legal and social issues, students are introduced to the primary therapeutic and intervention strategies employed with students who have autism. The theoretical basis of, and empirical evidence for, the diverse traditional and nontraditional therapies that have been proposed for persons with autism are also explored.

APPLIED BEHAVIORAL PROGRAMMING

Students investigate the principles and procedures of the field of applied behavioral analysis. Observational methods, single-subject designs, behavior promotion and reduction, and generalization strategies are reviewed in relation to the needs of students with disabilities. Participants develop individual projects that demonstrate their ability to design, implement, and evaluate behavioral support programs in an ethically responsive manner.

CLASSROOM PROGRAMMING FOR STUDENTS WITH AUTISM

Students examine the design and implementation of effective classroom programs, such as those based on the TEACCH model, for students with autism who differ in age and level of functioning. The course topics include classroom structure and organization, group instruction strategies, educational assessment and IEP development, record keeping, curriculum, instructional activities and materials, parent involvement, and staffing and support services.

TEACHING COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL SKILLS

This course examines the assessment and instructional strategies that have been shown to be effective in promoting the development of cognitive, language, and social skills by students who have severe disabilities, including those diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or other pervasive developmental disorders. Participants examine the instructional adaptations needed to promote the development of cognitive, communicative, and social skills in students with severe disabilities, and review the relevant empirical literature.

EDUCATION OF STUDENTS WITH SEVERE DISABILITIES: AUGMENTATIVE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

Students examine the design of augmentative communication systems that include use of graphic symbols for individuals with severe disabilities. Participants design and construct communication aids and develop strategies for integrating augmentative communication into the curriculum.

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