Autism Certification for Therapists and Why It’s Important

Therapists who are certified in autism are in high demand and this is only going to grow as the autism population increases.

According to the CDC, one in every 54 children is diagnosed with autism in the United States yet the majority of states in the country are lacking when it comes to having enough therapists trained in the field of autism. This includes speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, behavior therapists, and other professionals.

In many cases, while therapists are trained experts in the specific therapy or intervention they provide, they often do not complete extensive autism-specific training in addition to their specialty.

This is why supplemental training and certification for therapists is so needed – not only to help therapists with

a deeper understanding of a large portion of their client base and a specialized professional credential, but also to help ease the minds of parents or individuals who may have had negative experiences in the past with healthcare providers who did not take their autism diagnosis into account when providing services.

Boy-playing-at-therapy-center-for-speech-language-pathology-and-occupational-therapyAutism-Certified Therapists are in High Demand

Parents are demanding that one-on-one therapy is the most effective approach for their children on the spectrum. This can include occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, and ABA therapy.

As an example, in New York City, parents are prepared to fight in court for ABA therapy for preschoolers and children in elementary school. Once children move into the New York public school system, one-on-one therapy is not always an option. In many cases, all of the progress these children make during their first years of life can be lost.

Jessica Montgomery, parent of son Mason, who is on the autism spectrum, shares her story. As part of Mason’s early intervention program when he was a toddler, he received approximately 20 hours of ABA therapy every week. Montgomery saw huge improvements during this process. “My son made such incredible gains,” she recalled. “Mason went from not being able to swallow food to feeding himself and communicating his needs by pointing to pictures.”

Unfortunately, when Mason started school he lost the ABA therapy. Montgomery says that within a month of being at school it was “a complete disaster”.

The demand for therapy options in New York City is justified by the growing number of children on the spectrum. According to court papers, in 2007 there were about 7,000 students diagnosed with autism. By 2019 this had increased to over 20,000 students diagnosed with autism.

New York City is a small-scale representation of the rapidly growing needs across the entire nation. As more children are diagnosed with autism every day, the demand for therapists who specialize in autism will continue to grow.

Who is Certification For?

In a survey, parents reported that the top three therapies they found most effective for their children with autism included occupation therapy, speech-language pathology, and ABA therapy.

Employment of both occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists are expected to grow immensely. Between 2018 and 2028, employment of occupational therapists is expected to grow by 18 percent and for speech-language pathologists by 27 percent. Growth is expected to be even faster for those who are specialized in autism.

Health professionals in occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, or ABA therapy can benefit greatly by becoming autism certified.

What is a Certified Autism Specialist™ (CAS)?

Becoming a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) is a great opportunity for therapists who want to commit to serving individuals on the autism spectrum.

Steven Gould, special education teacher and CAS, said “The training and my IBCCES credentials have given an extra sense of credibility to my professional standards. Parents and colleagues know that I have met a high standard of professional development. I can proudly state that I am a Certified Autism Specialist!”

The CAS certification is meant to improve outcomes for the population with the fastest growing disorder in the US. It provides therapists with the resources and best practices they need to better understand their clients with autism. It also teaches them the crucial, and often misunderstood, differences between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ reinforcement, when to use them, and how people with autism respond to these somewhat differently than typical students.

The certification covers six areas of competency. These include:

  1. Autism Overview
  2. Comorbidities
  3. Early Childhood Identification
  4. Parent Communication
  5. Program Development
  6. Behavior

Other outcomes that therapists gain from the certification include being able to differentiate between sensory disorders and other potential reasons for behavior problems along with gaining professional recognition of their expertise in the field of autism.

Benefits for Therapists

Therapists who take advantage of becoming certified in autism now will be ahead of the game. Demand for these professionals will continue to rise and the therapist shortage shows that families are desperate for autism experts they can trust with their children’s development. Now is the perfect chance to step up and achieve a mastery level of specialist autism training.

Going through the CAS training and certification increases professional reputation and credibility while building therapist and parent confidence. Therapists who are autism-certified expand their client base as well as increase their opportunity for career advancement and increased pay.

  • “A large portion of my caseload continues to be individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and with their caregivers. Since obtaining my credential as a Certified Autism Specialist, I have seen a big increase in opportunities at my school and overall the receptiveness from both the parents and my peers has been phenomenal,“ said Andrea S. White, a speech-language pathologist and CAS.

The IBCCES certification also ensures that therapists can include their name on the online public registry of Certified Autism Specialists helping connect them to potential clients.

Therapists who see the value in becoming certified in autism will be viewed as leaders and influencers in their field. This is an opportunity for OTs, SLPs, and ABA therapists alike to set a new standard for care in the field of autism.

To learn more about becoming a CAS click here.

Interested in Becoming a Certified Autism Specialist?

Fill out form below for a certification specialist to answer any questions you have



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