Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Question I Sometimes Am Asked (and my most recent answer.)

"I am looking into furthering my training and education and  . . . I am looking and researching to becoming certified as an Autism Specialist . . . "

I'm going to give you an answer that wanders around a bit and is a bit informal. If you have further questions my contact information is at the bottom.

I will address training and education as being two different things (my definition) -
1. Training is knowledge; 
2. Education is knowledge + some sort of recognition of the specific knowledge acquired (degree, certification, etc.)

On Education:

There are companies that offer the opportunity to become a "Certified Autism Specialist" as  mentioned on the blog . The Office of Public Instruction does not recognize certificates nor specification in specific disabilities.

There are online degrees available in autism spectrum disorder. Do a lot of research before spending money. For instance, a degree from the University of North Dakota may be more accepted/contain better knowledge than a degree from an online for-profit degree provider. Programs may also differ in their content. I haven't researched any of them but did find this while doing some quick research.

MSU-Billings has an online program that prepares students to take the exam to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). I believe that program can also be used as part of an online masters degree. The person who runs that program is one of our Autism Consultants.

A few thoughts on Education (as described above):

1. All of the options above cost thousands of dollars. Is that money you would recoup through moving up your district pay scale or by switching jobs?

2. Online learning isn't the same as "hands-on" classroom-based learning. It can be harder to apply the knowledge learned in those programs.
With Education, one of the questions is, "If I get another degree, what am I going to do with it? And is it worth the $$ in either the satisfaction of gaining knowledge or in increased financial opportunities?

"Training" has a lot of opportunities (in no particular order):

Read the blog. All of it. I have. ;-) There are entries on the blog with information about all different aspects of autism and knowledge that transfers to other disabilities. Some entries will lead you to a source with links to further information, which then has another set of links and so on.

Go to trainings. We offer a lot of trainings around the state, all of which are free. We also list trainings from other providers.

Stay home and watch webinars. It's another way of gaining knowledge. There are multiple webinars per month and many of them are archived.

Stay at home and learn online. We offer free online training in autism and applied behavior analysis. OPI renewal units can be earned from the training.

Ask for mentoring. We have Autism Consultants across the state and would be more than happy to have one of the consultants visit your classroom and spend time with you on a monthly or more frequent basis.

Let me know if you have any questions.