Saint Joseph's University

SPE 720 Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders: Overview of Causality, Diagnosis, and Advocacy

Learn the many aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

Format: Online

Duration: 16 weeks

Credits: 3 credits

Autism is a, lifelong disability that impacts every member of the family. It is found in all countries, all cultures and racial groups, and all socio-economic groups. No two individuals with autism will be affected in the same way, as they are individuals first, with unique strengths, challenges, and gifts.

In this overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders, you explore the history of these disorders and the rise in diagnosed cases due to advanced screening and assessment methods. Through case studies, you learn the effects of ASD on individuals, families, schools and communities, and you discover effective ways to help meet the social, emotional and educational needs of those diagnosed with ASD.

With the steady increase in the number of individuals being diagnosed with ASD, educators are facing the challenge of meeting vastly divergent and complex educational, behavioral, and social needs in the early childhood, elementary, and secondary settings. In addition, as many as half of  individuals with ASD have an intellectual disability

This course is the first in a four-course sequence that provides a basic overview of the challenges ASD presents to educators, to families, to other providers of service, to individuals living with ASD, to advocates and to policy makers. Course content includes an overview of ASD; family issues and challenges; ASD screening, diagnosis and assessment; an overview of educational and clinical intervention approaches; accessing appropriate supports and services; macro-system policy considerations; advocacy; and the experience of individuals living with ASD.  

Sample Course Topics  

Throughout this course, weekly topics may include:

  • What Is Autism?
  • Overview of Educational Intervention Approaches
  • Early Childhood and Autism
  • School Age Children with Autism
  • Adolescence and the Transition to Adulthood
  • Adults with Autism
  • Medical and Co-occurring Issues in Autism
  • Addressing and Understanding Complex Behaviors
  • Autism Advocacy
  • The Impact of Autism on Family Systems

Examples of What You’ll Learn

Upon completing SPE 720, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the benefits of early intervention and challenges associated with early childhood autism, as well as diagnostic and assessment issues.
  • Identify family challenges often experienced by families with young children who have autism.
  • Describe challenges experienced by school age children, adolescents and adults with autism and associated service options, educational approaches and family issues.
  • Discuss family and vocational issues facing students who are transitioning to adulthood, as well as the importance of self-disclosure and self-advocacy.
  • Appreciate medical concerns related to individuals with autism.
  • Describe sensory issues of individuals with autism, as well as the use of medication and other complimentary therapies to addressing challenging behaviors.
  • Explain the role of professionals in advocacy.
  • Outline the impact of an autism diagnosis on the family and how professionals and support groups can provide help.

To learn more about the online Master of Science in Education – Special Education curriculum from Saint Joseph’s University, including Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders: Overview of Causality, Diagnosis and Advocacy, call (866) 758-7670 to speak with a Program Manager or request more information.

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

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