Master of Science in Special Education with a Specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Teach exceptional children.

Gain the specialized skillset to meet the unique educational needs of K-12 students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by earning this master’s degree entirely online.

This program was specifically designed to help experienced and compassionate educators substantially improve the lives of students with ASD. You will receive in-depth theoretical training as well as hands-on experience to prepare you for a rewarding career in special education that is focused on teaching and assisting children with autism.

The autism specialization aspect of this degree builds on the strength of our core M.S. in Special Education curriculum. Additional coursework in the assessment of students with ASD, the development of an individual education plan (IEP), and the effective use of assistive technology will prepare you for the many challenges and benefits you will experience in this fast-growing field.

Featured Professor

Walter J. Cegelka, Jr., Ed.D.

Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, you will be able to provide the following support for students with autism spectrum disorder:

  • Employ the latest research, methods, and best practices for improving learning outcomes
  • Plan and evaluate educational programs while incorporating assessment techniques and support measures
  • Help manage behavior and provide appropriate instructional procedures for teaching adaptive life skills and transition planning

Courses

St. Thomas University’s M.S. in Special Education with a Specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders is a 39 credit-hour, fully online degree program. Courses are five weeks in length, and the time to degree completion is approximately 17 months.

Special Education with a Specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders (39 Credits)

ESOL Issues & Strategies (3)
This course is designed to introduce issues and strategies of teaching English to speakers of other languages through content area instruction. The goal of this course is to develop the foundations of knowledge necessary to prepare teachers to understand the concepts upon which optimal environments for second language acquisition are based.

Educational Measurement (3)
This course introduces prospective teachers to all of the elements of assessment that are essential to good teaching. It provides students with an understanding of the role of assessment in the instructional process. Students will learn how to construct effective test questions that are aligned with learning objectives and how to evaluate published tests and properly interpret scores of standardized tests as well as how to make appropriate modifications for ESOL students.

Technology Integration (3)
This course focuses on how to integrate technology into the curriculum to effectively support and enhance learning. It provides students with opportunities to apply the principles and methods of technology integration by designing and developing real life technology-based projects. Topics include technology integration frameworks and strategies, and technology integration across the curriculum (language arts, math and science, foreign languages, social studies, music and art, physical and health education, and special education).

The Reading Process in the Content Area (3)
Understanding reading as a process of student education including both fluent decoding of words and construct meaning through the content area in grades K-12. Prerequisite: EDU 521

Nature of Autism: Theory and Educational Practice (3)
This course provides a foundation for individuals interested in educating learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The course reviews the historical and theoretical foundation, etiology, definitions, characteristics, developmental and learning profiles, assessment frameworks and procedures, current and emerging practices, individualized educational supports and service delivery models related to autism spectrum disorders.

Communication Foundations and Assistive/Instructional Technology (3)
This course addresses the process of verbal and non-verbal communication skills and investigates research-based strategies and interventions for improving communication in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Assessment, Diagnosis and Individual Educational Planning (IEP) for Children with Autism (3)
This course developes the knowledge and skill necessary to assess a complete, scientifically grounded, and clinically useful portrait of a child's strengths and difficulties in social behavior, language and communication, intellectual functioning, motor skills, and other key areas of impairment and comorbidity. A focus of the course will be on the use of data from a variety of sources to improve the accuracy of diagnosis and inform the development of individualized interventions.

Methods of Behavior Management (3)
This course explores the idea of positive behavior support for promoting acceptable behavior in school and other settings where individuals with a form of autism learn. This course, grounded in research based interventions, is designed to assist all who work with these students in special and regular education in developing skills to teach and support acceptable behavior that is demonstrated in home, school and community settings. A field experience also forms part of this course.

Young Children with ASD (includes Methods) (3)
This course provides an introduction to the causes and diagnosis of autism, scientific validation, applied behavior analysis, and ethical treatment. Students also learn to write functional objectives, plan positive reinforcement, and design an applied measurement system in the context of developing Individualized Family Service Plans and Individualized Education plans. The issue of culturally appropriate interventions is addressed.

High Functioning Students with ASD (includes Methods) (3)
This course focuses on creating an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for Students with Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism. Current research and best practices in the field of ASD are emphasized.

Licensure/Certification

If you hold a valid teaching license from your state, you may be eligible to apply for an autism spectrum disorder endorsement upon the successful completion of the M.S. in Special Education with a Specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders from St. Thomas University. Check with your state teacher licensing agency for its requirements.

K-12 teachers in Florida are eligible to apply for an ASD Endorsement to their ESE Florida Educator Certificate after completing this program.

Additional Requirements
In addition to our general graduate admissions requirements for our master’s in education programs, applicants for this program are expected to have taught K-12 or have a teaching certificate.


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