There’s a range of different CEUs available for occupational therapists, including free CEUs, subscription CEUs and options like autism certification that can help further their career.
These CEUs help them to serve people of all populations and ensure that they are prepared to give the best therapy possible.
One of these populations includes individuals who have autism, a lifelong condition that impacts the person’s development in social interaction and communication, among other things. Autism affects both children and adults and is the fastest growing disorder in the United States, making it imperative that OTs are familiar with the disorder and understand how to work with individuals on the spectrum.
Many OTs do not have specific autism training, despite autism presenting a number of unique challenges that make it necessary to understand how to approach these individuals differently in order to get the desired results from therapy.
“Children with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to exhibit significantly different patterns of sensory processing to their peers and to children with other special educational needs (SEN).” –Corinna Laurie, Occupational Therapist
With these challenges in mind, it can make sense to take advantage of this time that OTs are required to do ongoing education to also expand their knowledge base to ensure they can be as effective as possible with one of the core populations many OTs see for treatment.
This type of training can help OTs to understand the unique challenges that can lead to roadblocks in therapy and how to address them, as well as help provide recognition for specialization and build trust for new clients who are seeking out providers with specialty training.
As OTs begin engaging in ongoing education, it can be overwhelming due to the vast amount of information, resources, and courses that are available to them. Ranging from free CEUs, subscription CEUs, webinars, and certifications there are many options to consider.
This article will give an overview of some different ongoing education options to help OTs distinguish which might be the best for them.
Free CEUs for OTs
At first thought, free CEUs seem like a quick and easy option for OTs who are looking to continue their education and gain credit.
However, credible and reliable free CEUs can be hard to find. It seemed that many suggested resources did not actually offer free CEUs when OTs looked further into these options, but rather they offered free webinars or courses, CEUs omitted.
Other free CEU opportunities seem to only offer this as an option to those who are already paying for a membership, defeating the purpose of the CEUs being free.
This is an important factor for OT’s to keep in mind when researching free CEU options so that they do not invest time and energy into a course or webinar that ends up not offering any CEUs.
Subscription CEUs- Are they Everything an OT Needs?
Another option for OTs looking to expand their knowledge are subscription CEUs.
While subscription CEUs can be pricey and do require time and energy, subscription platforms can be credible and offer a wide selection of courses. Some offer over 1,000 AOTA-accredited CE courses so there is plenty of different subject matter to choose from. OTs can access the courses any time and can rely on receiving CEUs upon completion.
Subscription CEUs can be helpful to OTs who are willing to invest the time and money, but these CEUS are also very popular among the market and don’t offer the chance to stand out. Despite the numerous options available, they also may not go to the same depth in certain areas despite the vast selection available with options like Medbridge.
One of those areas in particular is autism.
Another Option – Autism Certification
While free CEUs can seem like a simple, quick fix with little investment, they are not always easy to find or very reliable and can sometimes end up being a waste of time. Subscription CEUs can be great for increasing knowledge, but don’t add anything to the resume or prestige of the practitioner in the eyes of colleagues or patients.
Autism certification gives OTs the opportunity to specialize in a rapidly growing disorder while differentiating themselves from other professionals.
What is Autism Certification?
Becoming certified in autism is another great option for OTs who are looking to pursue ongoing education.
Autism certification ensures that OTs are equipped to provide high quality care to those with autism and other special needs. Unless professionals have received specific autism training, it can be challenging to fully understand the disorder and how it impacts each person on an individual level. Autism certification prepares OTs to know what to look for and how to safely care for anyone on the spectrum.
“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,” shares Paula Perkins, an OT and Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) in Texas.
Why is it Important for OTs to Get Certified?
OTs play an important role in the lives of those with autism, especially younger children and students. When OTs are properly trained in autism they can assist clients with their unique needs, including self-regulation, sensory needs, adaptive skills, motor development, mental health, social participation and daily life skills. A specialized training program also helps prepare the OT to be able to communicate and collaborate with the client’s family members, school staff, and any other key players in the client’s development.
Cari Ann, a CAS and experienced OT, said “Having my CAS has allowed me to not only be a resource for the parents whose children I get the privilege to work with, but also to pass the knowledge learned onto co-workers and students. It has helped facilitate a team approach between OT, PT, and ST to treat children with autism, which helps that child and family all the more.”
OTs also have a significant role when it comes to the early detection of autism in clients. When they understand what to look for and how to identify autism they can take necessary measures to help the client by recommending early intervention services, which can make all the difference in the success of the client’s development.
Benefits of Autism Certification
Receiving a certification in autism holds many benefits for OTs who are looking to deepen their knowledge of the fastest growing disorder in the United States while advancing professionally. An autism certification also allows the OT to better serve their clients and have a greater impact.
Enhance Reputation and Credibility
Having a certification in autism gives OTs credibility and enables potential clients and employers to trust that they have the proper background to provide the required care. An autism certification shows that the OT is experienced and reputable.
Increase Opportunity for Career Advancement
An autism certification has the ability to increase career opportunities and advancements for OTs. When they are highly trained in a specific area, this opens doors that they otherwise would not have access to.
“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 to my current position in work.” – Rod Charlie Delos Reyes, OTRP, CPMT, AC
Looking to stand out in your competitive field? An autism certification allows you to differentiate yourself from other OTs. The certification also shows that you are dedicated to serving those within the autism community and take your role as a leader seriously.
Have a Comprehensive Understanding of Autism
Autism is such a complex disorder that many health professionals still do not understand fully. As Dr. Stephen Shore said “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
Possessing the knowledge and skills that autism certification provides will allow you to be able to work with anyone on the spectrum with confidence. This also enables you to establish yourself as an autism expert who others seek out for help and guidance.
Improve Client Outcomes
Having a better understanding of autism spectrum disorder ensures that as an OT you will be able to provide the most effective treatment and care to your clients. As a result, this improves client outcomes.
“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,“ said Shala Brooks, OT and CAS.
Able to Earn CEUs
Another huge benefit to receiving an autism certification is that it provides the ability to earn CEUs. The IBCCES certification program includes access to content that is provided by an AOTA-approved provider and the opportunity to receive CEUs.
Increase Client Base
OTs who are certified in autism automatically increase their client base and potential for new clients because they are able to better serve a growing population. Over five million adults in the US have autism and one in every 54 children are diagnosed. There is a major want and need for autism specialists and OTs have the perfect opportunity to meet this demand.
Is Autism Certification Right For You?
In a highly competitive market, OTs need to be able to differentiate themselves and with autism on the rise, there is extreme demand for autism-trained professionals. Autism certification is perfect for the OT who is looking to establish themselves as a leader in working with individuals who are on the spectrum while also having the ability to receive CEUs.
IBCCES offers training that is AOTA specific and a more comprehensive autism training.
You can sign up here for the more comprehensive autism training (not AOTA approved)
Learn More About Autism Certification Options