Autism is a complex disorder and while therapists have specific training and are adept at delivering therapeutic interventions, many do not have in-depth training in autism specifically. This can sometimes create obstacles during treatment and can also create frustration for families if they don’t feel like their child is truly understood.
Children with autism are 52 times more likely to visit a doctor or therapist, yet they are often misunderstood and many have had negative experiences with healthcare providers due to a lack of understanding by the provider.
These experiences can often lead to ineffective healthcare outcomes or therapy, and potential mistrust of individuals when seeking new providers.
$268 billion is spent on autism services every year by families.
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the US, and many therapy clinics treat people all across the autism spectrum, often with varying results. Parents of individuals on the autism spectrum are consistently frustrated by the lack of understanding of how their children perceive the world differently.
Parents and Caretakers Understand Their Child’s Autism Experience
Parents and caretakers of an individual on the spectrum are going to be well aware of the perceptual differences of that person. However, depending on the ability of the individual to effectively communicate, there may still be a lot of unknowns. While caretakers are not therapists, this can cause unease on the side of the parent or caretaker if the therapist or therapy center does not specifically demonstrate they have in-depth professional training in autism, not just the therapy interventions themselves.
The Importance of Treating Every Individual Differently
This is especially true for parents or caretakers who have multiple children on the spectrum, which is not uncommon. These caretakers are forced to become very familiar with the way that each child needs to be treated differently by taking their own differences into account in order to get desired outcomes. Yet many therapists are not aware of the vast differences that can be present between different children on the spectrum and may look to treat many children with autism similarly without understanding how that could adversely impact their therapy.
1 in 54 children within the US are diagnosed with autism, making it imperative that clinics and healthcare professionals understand the disorder and how to provide care for individuals on the spectrum.
What is Autism Certification?
The goal of becoming autism certified is to ensure that those working with individuals with autism will have the knowledge, training, and expertise they need in order to provide quality care, as well as the recognition to let caretakers know they have a specific commitment and understanding to working with individuals with autism. Due to autism operating along a rather complex spectrum, each impacted individual will experience the disorder in a way that is unique to them. This makes autism certification so important because it allows professionals to effectively support individuals on the spectrum.
Autism Certificate + Certified Autism Specialist™ = Certified Autism Center™
The goals of becoming a Certified Autism Center™ are twofold:
- To ensure your staff is properly prepared to serve individuals on the autism spectrum effectively throughout the therapy process
- To communicate to parents and the community that your clinic has made this extra step so that families with individuals on the spectrum know to come to you first for therapy
There are different levels of training for different staff throughout the clinic. Many therapists start out by thinking that it is not important to have their front desk staff complete training since they are not administering therapy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The front desk and support staff have that initial interaction that sets the tone for the whole therapy experience. It is important that those staff are able to interact with the patient in an understanding way to prevent overwhelm at these initial stages. Otherwise, the potential benefits of therapy could be counteracted before therapy even starts.
Do Staff Get Their Own Certifications?
Each staff member would go through training and certification individually, with 80 percent or more of staff getting certified overall to enable the clinic to become a Certified Autism Center™.
Support staff and staff that don’t have a master’s degree would earn an Autism Certificate (AC); therapists with a Master’s degree and at least two years experience would earn a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS)™; and once 80 percent of staff are certified, the therapy clinic becomes a Certified Autism Center (CAC)™.
Becoming a CAC is for clinics that are committed to stepping up as leaders in the field of autism. This certification recognizes clinics that have a highly trained staff and are prepared on a holistic level to provide treatment and care to those with autism.
Benefits of Autism Certification
Therapy clinics are facing the challenge of standing out in a highly competitive market. Being able to differentiate your clinic from others is key to your success, but how?
Fortunately, becoming certified is an automatic way to do this. Besides differentiation, autism certification will also help your clinic to attract new clients, increase your referral rate, and equip you with a staff that is prepared to help patients with autism so that they can achieve exceptional outcomes.
There are a number of benefits for individuals who get certification as well as benefits for the therapy center for becoming a Certified Autism Center™.
Benefits of Becoming a Certified Autism Center™
1. Enhance Professional Reputation and Credibility
As a therapy clinic, when your staff is trained and certified specifically in autism and you communicate this to potential clients, it leads to a positive reputation and increased credibility that can bring in new clients, increase referrals, and keep current clients raving about your clinic.
2. Stand Out From Competitors
Therapy clinics are looking for any way they can to differentiate themselves from competitors. Becoming autism certified is a great way to stand out to a growing population of individuals who are underserved and need proper care. Families and individuals are much more likely to travel longer distances to a clinic that has staff who are autism certified than going to a competitor that does not, even if their location is closer. Stand out in a positive way while serving a population that needs it.
3. Show Your Commitment to Autism Training
Autism certification is one of the best ways to show your community that your clinic is committed to serving those with autism and other cognitive disorders. This can play a crucial role in expanding your business, forming important partnerships, and being able to produce the best outcomes for your patients.
4. Demonstrates Compliance
Another benefit is that becoming autism certified demonstrates that your staff are in compliance with local and state guidelines in regards to professional development.
5. Improve Grant Qualifications
When your staff is autism certified, your clinic has better qualifications and can demonstrate commitment to potential grant opportunities, donors, and funding programs.
“This certification allows me to demonstrate my professional competence and skills, specifically in the field of autism. This is increasingly important at a time when standards of accountability mandate service providers be highly qualified. I am a better OT when I am more diversely equipped to meet the spectrum of needs of this growing population.”
Paula Perkins, OTR, SCSS, MA, CAS Burkburnett ISD | Burkburnett, TX
6. Improve Training + Patient Care
Becoming a CAC will give your staff access to customized online training that is specific to each of their positions. Your clinic will be able to provide appropriate treatments to patients and interact comfortably and positively with individuals on the spectrum.
7. Receive Recognition and Promotion
When your clinic becomes a CAC not only will you differentiate yourself from competitors, but you will also have access to marketing support from IBCCES. Some of these items include a listing on the International Online Registry, joint press release, a framed certification for display in your clinic, a digital certification badge to be placed on your website and social media, and a feature on CertifiedAutismCenter.com with access to over 5.6 million parents, therapists, and educators, who can become clients and referral sources. Each individual staff member also gets their own credential and badge to show their certification designation as well.
8. Create a Better Health Standard
The CAC certification ensures that your clinic will stand out from competitors and be recognized as a leader in autism within your community. With a staff that is knowledgeable and capable of specializing in autism, the care provided will be unparalleled. The CAC creates the opportunity for your staff to feel recognized and your patients to trust you.
“At the Bowen Center we saw a gap in resources that were being provided to people who are on the spectrum. We knew professional training was necessary to fill this gap.”
Bil, Bowen Center Executive
In order to become a CAC you must meet the following three requirements:
- Dedicated to serving individuals with autism
- At least 80% of your patient-facing staff is trained and certified in the field of autism
- Committed to ongoing specialized training in autism
Set Your Clinic Up To Succeed with Autism Training and Certification
Autism is continually growing in prevalence. Clinics have the opportunity to step up and stand out in a positive way that also allows them to serve this vast population that desperately needs more professionals who understand how to interact with and provide care for them.
When parents of someone on the autism spectrum feel like their child is truly understood and provided for in a way that is sensitive to their needs they will often become your biggest fan. Families with autism are interconnected in most every community, meaning that once you become certified and those families find out how well you understand their children word of mouth will spread.
These families are looking for options they can trust. Every family has to make decisions about who they can trust to treat and understand their child, and autism certification can make it that much easier for them to choose.
Find Out More About Getting Your Therapy Clinic Autism Certified by filling out the form below.
Looking for an Individual Certification?
How to Obtain an AC or Become a CAS
To obtain an AC or become a CAS, it is a simple six-step process.
The steps include:
- Apply online
- Complete online autism training program
- Certification exam
- IBCCES verification
- Board approval
- Certification issued
Learn More About Becoming A Certified Autism Center™