Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum Courses

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What is the Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum?

Autistic students learn and develop in different ways than their neurotypical peers. Students on the spectrum have unique strengths and challenges that need to be considered in whatever type of learning environment they participate in.

Children with autism may be both focused and exceptionally skilled in certain areas such as math or music. However, a narrow range of interests means it can be difficult to engage them in other areas of learning.  Educational goals for students with autism usually aim for skills in communication, social interaction, appropriate behaviour, choice-making, and functional academic abilities.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum in the following subject areas:

  • Graduate Certificate in the Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum – Develop the knowledge, skills and expertise of appropriate education for children and young people on the autism spectrum.
  • Autism Studies – Learn about the history of autism, the different strengths and challenges of autism, and how autism affects a person’s mental health and daily living.
  • Understanding the Autism Spectrum – This course explores principles and problems of diagnosis, possible underlying causes and issues of care, education and therapy.
  • Certificate in Autism, Wellbeing and Positive Behaviour Supports – A look at the positive measures that can provide positive outcomes for a person who has behaviours that challenge.
  • Certificate in Autism Awareness – Provides the knowledge and skills to effectively work with a child with autism in a school, home or social environment.
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies – The study of the Education and Skills necessary to promote excellence in the education of people with autism.
  • Graduate Diploma / M.Ed. In Special Educational Needs – This course provides particular expertise in both Special Educational Needs and the analysis of behaviour.
  • Special Education – A broad overview of special educational needs and provision in the Irish context.

Studying Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum 

There are many courses in Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. Look out for volunteer opportunities to work with children with special needs. General experience with children, or young people, with disabilities or learning difficulties is also useful. Visit a range of schools that support SEN pupils – both mainstream and specialist schools – to observe lessons and talk to teachers. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favourably by employers.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing an Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of working with children and young people who need extra support or require an advanced programme of learning, in order to reach their full educational potential.

A key aspect of working in this field is identifying individual needs and being responsible for creating a safe, stimulating and supportive learning environment.

Many SEN teachers work in mainstream schools, either in the classrooms or within specialist units, depending on the inclusion policy of the school. The specialist units provide support for pupils with autism or physical and sensory impairments. You could also find employment in special schools throughout the UK, helping students with learning needs arising from physical difficulties, learning difficulties or behavioural problems.

Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. Special Educational Needs teachers generally work a school day – from around 8.30 am to 3.30 pm, Monday to Friday – during term time. This may vary depending on the school and which part of the country you live in. Teachers also often spend time at home planning and preparing lessons and assessing pupils’ work.

Related jobs include:

  • Special educational needs coordinator
  • Special educational needs teacher
  • Community education officer
  • Early Years teacher
  • Education administrator
  • Education consultant
  • Education mental health practitioner
  • English as a foreign language teacher
  • Further education teacher
  • Learning mentor
  • Primary school teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Teaching assistant
  • Careers adviser
  • Child psychotherapist
  • Counsellor
  • Family support worker
  • Health play specialist
  • Museum education officer
  • Play therapist
  • Private tutor
  • Youth worker

Further study

After completing a course in Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as Community Education, Family Support or Youth Work.


What is the importance of the Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum?

Children with autism function on a wide spectrum. People with mild autism may be able to communicate relatively well but struggle in social situations, while people with severe autism often struggle to verbalize their thoughts. This wide spectrum means that how autism affects learning will vary greatly according to the individual and the severity of their disorder.

With the right education styles and environments, children with autism learn socialisation, communication and important life skills and can practice these skills in a safe, caring environment.

What are some methods or strategies that may be used for the Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum?

Teaching students on the Autism Spectrum can be a challenging and rewarding experience. These students possess unique skills that should be highlighted in order to encourage educational development. While each student presents with a unique situation and strengths, the following tips can serve as a general guide in the classroom:

  • Avoid sensory overload – Students with autism can be distracted by unexpected things in their environment, such as bright lights, smells, and sounds.
  • Use visuals – Visuals serve as quick and clear reminders about items in the classroom, such as rules, where things go and resources.
  • Be predictable – An established routine on a set schedule helps autistic students feel less anxious in the classroom.
  • Use precise language – Autistic students tend to interpret language in concrete terms, so they will benefit from clear and precise instruction in the classroom.
  • Teach social skills directly – Teach social skills directly by modelling and discussing appropriate behaviour in easy-to-understand ways.
  • Treat students as individuals – Each student on the spectrum is affected differently by ASD. Some accommodations will work well for some students and not as well for others. Focus on each student’s strengths and successes as you model patience and respect in the classroom.

Where can I study Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder can vary widely depending on the individual. For some people, symptoms of the disorder are mild, while they may be more pronounced in others. But symptoms of ASD generally tend to involve communication skills and social behaviours, such as being extremely introverted, not wanting to play with other children, or not making eye contact. Kids with autism spectrum disorder may repeat certain behaviours (such as flapping their hands) over and over again, or they may become obsessed with a particular toy, like Thomas the Train.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder is about 4 times more likely in boys than girls and affects children of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder can learn and succeed in the classroom and beyond. Like every child, with the help of their families, providers, doctors, specialists, and communities, kids with ASD can thrive.
  • It’s possible for children as young as 18 months to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. But most diagnoses occur at 24 months or older, at which point the diagnosis is considered to be very reliable.
  • Scientists don’t know exactly what causes autism. Most experts agree that a combination of genetic and environmental factors increase a child’s risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder, but there are still a lot of unknowns. There’s emerging evidence that children may start to develop autism before they’re born.

Mariza Halliday

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