According to the Autism Society of America (ASA), the number of diagnosed autistic children in the United States has been growing significantly in the last several decades.
In fact, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, their 2007 study confirmed that approximately 1 out of every 150 children will be diagnosed with autism. This rise in cases adds to the nearly 1.5 million Americans who are currently coping with the effects of autism spectrum disorder.
Due to the rising need for autism support, community colleges have created a variety of autism training programs to help students specialize in helping autistic children. As ASA supports, “The spotlight shown on autism as a result of the prevalence increase opens opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve these families facing a lifetime of support for their children.”
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder is a highly complex developmental disability that typically influences how a child thinks, behaves, and interprets various interactions. Labeled as a “spectrum disorder,” autism has an incredibly vast range of symptoms and signals.
Typically, children with autism will begin to show signs of this disorder within the first three years of their lives. Since autism is not a short term condition, but a lifetime component of a child’s life and thinking process, there is no quick cure for this disorder.
Furthermore, since scientists are unsure as to what the exact cause of autism really is, experts assert that parents with autistic children must work with their unique child’s needs and abilities in order to help them to become as highly functional as possible. While autistic children are often remarkably intelligent, some signs of autistic symptoms and struggles typically include:
- Delayed use of language/inability to communicate effectively
- Repetitive language and actions/motions
- Lack of consistent eye contact
- Disinterest in personal relationships/friendships
- Lack of spontaneous or creative play
- Obsession / fixation with parts / mechanics of objects
This video explains how to create a safe learning environment for students with autism.
Community College Autism Certification Programs
To help schools, community institutions, and even individual families with their specific autistic children’s needs, students can partake in a variety of classes and hands-on experiences to gain a greater awareness and knowledge of autism.
For example, New Hampshire Technical Institute (NHTI), located in Concord, is one of the many institutions providing a variety of autism-based courses. The NHTI Autism Early Intervention Specialist Certificate program works in conjunction with the Child and Family Services department to provide students with the most optimal training and experience. Learning how to help autistic children ranging from birth to the age of 8, students will work with trans-disciplinary teams to gain information on the development of autistic children, the services that are required, and the techniques that are most effective for support. Courses included in the NHTI autism program include:
- Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Child, Family, and Community
- Preparing for Practicum
- Infant / Toddler Development and Programming
- Teaching Young Children with Special Needs
Along with a list of many other courses, graduates of the NHTI program will be prepared to obtain employment upon earning their degree. Furthermore, by completing the required courses for the Autism Early Intervention Specialist Certificate program, students will have met the guidelines to hold a New Hampshire’s Associate Teacher license (level 4).
Additional Community College Venues
Adding to the many autistic certification and training programs available at community colleges across the country, many institutions are also hosting autism-based workshops.
For example, Herkimer Community College, located in New York, provides both students and local community members with various workshops to find out more information about research studies and breakthroughs. The topic of one workshop focused on the potential influences of diet as a factor that can trigger certain symptoms of autism. With a discussion focusing on non-invasive dietary tips that can help decrease some children’s symptoms of autism, participants learn about new theories behind explorative treatment measures in these workshops.
This video describes the online courses that the Wallace State Community College Child Development program offers.
Sadly, the number of children diagnosed with autism is expected to grow each year. To help this growing population, you can expand your knowledge and skill set at your local community college.
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