Kansas is doing a good job of identifying and diagnosing young children with autism, according to Terri Swanson, coordinator of PSU’s autism certificate programs. The problem is that there is a shortage of professionals who are certified to provide services for very young children with autism. Parents of these children often find themselves on long and often frustrating wait lists, she said.
To meet the growing need for services for very young children with autism, PSU will offer a new early childhood autism certificate beginning this fall.
“Many early childhood providers have not yet received quality professional development on how to work with children with Autism Spectrum Disease (ASD),” Swanson said. “In addition, many early childhood centers are not fully prepared to support children with ASD and their extensive behavioral and medical needs. In a nutshell, young children with ASD are not receiving the intensive services they need each week.”
Those extensive needs may require 25 hours or more of special services each week, according to Swanson.
PSU is partnering with a number of groups, early childhood special educators and parents of children with autism to offer the new certificate, Swanson said.
Participants in the new certification program will earn the 18-credit-hour certificate over three semesters, taking two courses per semester.
“The courses are designed to provide early childhood providers with professional development, clinical experience and mentoring on how to effectively implement screening practices, evidence-based teaching practices, develop comprehensive programs, and collaborate with families and other professionals,” Swanson said.