9 Ways an Autism Certification Helps Occupational Therapists (& Children)

Occupational therapists don’t always receive in-depth training specific to autism and other cognitive disorders throughout their education, which is why autism certification can be so helpful for many OTs.

Many occupational therapists became an OT because they want to be able to help children. A CAS credential is meant to help OTs and other health care professionals be better prepared to serve individuals on the autism spectrum in a variety of ways, in turn making them a resource for teachers, parents, and co-workers alike.

As Autism Rate Grows, so Does Demand for Certified Professionals

The prevalence of autism is growing across the US, as is the demand for professionals who are qualified to work with people with autism. Becoming a Certified Autism Professional (CAS) has a host of benefits for the students, the OT, and their colleagues.

Here are 9 of the top reasons for an OT to pursue an autism certification, with many of them straight from practicing OTs who have already earned the CAS credential themselves.

1. Understanding each individual with autism is different

“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” – Dr. Stephen Shore, IBCCES Board Member who is also on the autism spectrum.

Individuals with autism can present with a wide range of abilities and challenges – naturally, individuals will need different approaches. Understanding and working with these differences is often crucial to obtaining the goals of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for students.

2. Improve outcomes of treatments for students with autism

“The IBCCES training has allowed me to take a deeper look into the therapy plans I create for my patients and students. I have a better understanding of the Autism Spectrum diagnoses and how to overcome challenging behaviors. I feel that I am now more equipped to adapt the environment to the patient/student or adapt the student/patient to their environment.” – Shala Brooks, MS, OTR/L, CPAM, CAS

A better understanding of autism spectrum disorder is helpful to better understand how students on the spectrum can be best set up for success.

3. Recognize the signs of someone on the autism spectrum

Many students who act out are not ‘bad students’ but are students who are displaying symptoms of autism and are not receiving proper support. Becoming certified helps therapists make sure they are familiar with those signs that can often go unnoticed in medium to high functioning students on the spectrum. This is the first step in helping them address their needs more effectively.

4. Establishes you as a resource on autism and cognitive disorders

“Having my CAS has allowed me to not only be a resource for the parents who’s children I get the privilege to work with, but also to pass the knowledge learned on to co-workers and students. It has helped facilitate a team approach between OT, PT, and ST to treating children with Autism, which helps that child and family all the more.” -Cari Ann Riney, MOTR, CAS

There are lots of professionals who interact with children on the autism spectrum that could benefit from a better understanding. With a CAS or AC certification, in addition to your occupational therapy expertise, you are better equipped to help give them that understanding, whether it be a parent, a student, or a co-worker.

5. Increases confidence in providing the best care

“It boosted my confidence and I am acknowledged with my skills in providing utmost care for children with autism through the credential that paved the way on my current position in work.” – Rod Charlie Delos Reyes, OTRP, CPMT, AC

Completing the Certified Autism Specialist credential (CAS) means that you are kept up to date on the latest research and best practices in the growing field of autism and cognitive disorders.

6. An independently verifiable credential from an internationally recognized organization

Each person who completes the training will have their name and credential listed on the online public registry for autism professionals. This will serve to promote your knowledge and skills with interacting with students with autism and show that you take the initiative to go above and beyond to earn additional credentials to better serve your clients.

7. Ability to Acquire CEUs

Content provided by an AOTA-approved provider is available as part of the certification training!  If you would like to get the AOTA certification training, please contact us here.

8. Increase chances for hospital, clinic and district contracts

The landscape for school districts has changed since the 2017 case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District that determined that according to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. a student’s “educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances” and “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.” –The Atlantic

While this applies directly to schools, this is certainly something that will have caused any clinics or hospitals that deal with children with special needs to take notice. It is also important to keep in mind that even clinics that don’t focus on autism will likely have patients who have autism. A certification can both add to your skill set and help to differentiate you from when looking to transition to a new position.

9. Increase Your Ability to Attract New Clients with Autism

If a parent of a child with autism has the choice between their child going to someone who is a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) or someone who is not, the choice is simple. If you are looking to add new clients to a practice then this will give you the skills you need to add a specialty field that includes a large and growing demographic.

Is Becoming a Certified Autism Specialist Right for You?

Rates of autism are continuing to rise, and so is the demand for Occupational Therapists who can meet their needs. If you’re looking to distinguish yourself in the workplace and establish yourself as a leader in meeting the needs of individuals with cognitive disorders, a CAS is exactly what you are looking for.

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