An autistic support specialist is an education professional who works directly with autistic students. Autistic support specialists are typically employed by schools or non-profit organizations. As illustrated below, they provide a variety of critical support services to autistic students.
What is Autism?
Autism is a spectrum disorder that results in varying levels of severity. This means that autism is actually an umbrella term that is used to describe symptoms that can be found among the three major disorder types: autism, Asperger’s syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Therefore, every autistic student has individualized symptoms and conditions. Autism affects a student’s social, behavior and language skills. First, the child may exhibit strange facial expressions, lack common interests and be unable to engage in social interaction. They struggle to understand people’s feelings and make friends. Second, they may experience language learning difficulties in the form of misunderstanding sarcasm, humor and simple statements. Third, their behaviors may appear clumsy, obsessive or abnormal.
Intervention and Treatment Plans
Autistic students can experience serious developmental delays and problems. Autism support specialized are trained professionals who work one-on-one with the clients in order to help them socially, academically and personally function. Autistic support specialists work with clients and families to create development intervention plans. They must analyze their clients’ symptoms and behaviors in order to create a customized intervention and treatment plan that focus on educating and mentoring appropriate skills and behaviors. In fact, autistic support specialists must frequently update and adjust their treatment plans according to client breakthroughs or lack of progress.
Autistic support specialists don’t just educate their autistic students, but also teachers, family members and the public. This is because most people are unaware of how autism affects people and interferes with their quality of life. Mild autism can be successfully managed through support and treatment programs that enable the individual to live a normal, fulfilling life. However, severe autism can result in permanent social, cognitive and physical development delays. As a result, the individual will struggle to control their bodily functions and interact with others and their environment. Consequently, autistic support specialists will continually raise awareness and confront common misconceptions and prejudices about autism.
What Education is Required?
As stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), special education teachers must at least have state certification and a bachelor’s degree. However, certain states may require specific exam certification and licensure for educators who work with autistic students. In fact, many states and education organizations require that students have a master’s degree. Some autistic support specialists obtain special certification.
Certifications for Autistic Support Specialists
There are two popular organizations that provide certification programs for autistic support specialists. First, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a non-profit organization that provides professional credentials to those who perform behavior analysis at work. They offer different credentials to autistic support specialists For example, a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is responsible for providing basic behavior-analytic services. They work under the supervision of a certified professional, such as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, who provides advanced behavior-analytic services. Additionally, the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) offers their Autism Certificate (AC), Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) and Certified Autism Specialist credentials. These certifications recognize individuals who voluntarily meet stringent standards by enhancing their professional credibility and competency.
Related Resource: Charter School
Looking back, autistic support specialists create customized plans, educate and provide support to their clients. Autistic support specialists help their students develop age appropriate skills and capabilities in order to live normal functioning lives.