News & Features

New Programs Address Autism

With the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) increasing, Fontbonne University is helping to expand the number of qualified professionals in this growing field through two new academic programs. These programs will prepare educators and other service providers to best address the unique needs of individuals with autism — and their families — through collaboration across various fields, current research and best practices.

The university offers a 32-credit hour Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in autism spectrum disorders. Or, professionals can earn a 15-credit hour certificate in ASD, composed of specialty courses from the master’s program.

The master’s program and the certificate both feature interdisciplinary curriculum that includes instruction and coursework integrating the specialties of communication disorders, deaf education, education and special education. Specialists in other fields such as occupational therapy and social work contributed to program development and serve in roles such as guest speakers.

“Our autism programs are very collaborative, and classes are taught by professors from multiple areas,” said Dr. Margaret Gray, professor and director of special education and the primary architect of both the autism certificate and the graduate concentration. “Individuals with autism will require educators and other service providers with knowledge and networks across multiple disciplines, and Fontbonne’s interdisciplinary model represents effective collaboration. We foresee, as the program grows, that we will serve a broader base of professionals, school-based and community-based, such as social workers, occupational therapists and administrators.”

Students in both programs complete five specialized ASD courses. Those who choose the master’s concentration will also study curriculum and research methods and will complete an action research project. For both, theory serves as the groundwork, and practice is addressed through research-supported models. Developmental and social-relational approaches to treatment, along with applied behavior analysis, are addressed throughout. With a substantial background in these areas, professionals will be well qualified to contribute to the social, educational and overall life experiences of individuals with ASD.

Enrollment is currently open for both programs.

Learn more about the Master of Arts: Studies in Autism Spectrum Disorders concentration.

Learn more about the Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate.