20 Earn Certificates of Graduate Studies in Autism Education

A ceremony was held last month for 20 graduate students who recently completed their Certificate of Graduate Studies in Autism Education.

The group included teachers, school counselors and therapists who recently completed six courses over the past 18 months, focusing on the special challenges of dealing with autistic students, said Leslie Schuster, interim dean of graduate studies for Rhode Island College.

More than 100 people, including family members, friends, college faculty and dignitaries, attended the graduation ceremony held in Alger Hall on Dec. 20, said Paul LaCava, an assistant professor of special education at Rhode Island College who is also faculty director of the certificate program.

During the ceremony, many of the graduates expressed appreciation for the faculty and program, and they said they valued the opportunity to forge a professional network with others in the field, Schuster said.

The Certificate of Graduate Studies in Autism Education was created in 2009 to address the increasing needs of students with autism spectrum disorders, LaCava said. “The purpose of the program is to increase the knowledge, skills and leadership abilities of professionals currently working in Rhode Island schools.”

Over the past three years, Schuster said, 54 students have completed the program “to become leaders in autism education in the region’s schools.”