Certificate of Graduate Study (C.G.S.) in Autism Education

The CGS in Autism Education was driven by regional need and was developed by various constituents across Rhode Island. The program was created to support professionals who currently work with individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or who plan to do so in the future. The program's purpose is to extend professionals' knowledge and skills and ultimately the capacity of professionals, school districts, community providers, etc. to effectively teach and support individuals with ASD.

Autism is currently conceptualized as a spectrum of similar life-long disabilities. A prevalence increase has been reported since the early 1990s with the most recent data supporting a rate of all ASD at about 1 in 68 (CDC, 2014). Causes for these dramatic increases remain controversial, but the implications are clear. Children with ASD must be identified as early as possible and subsequently provided with evidence-based practices (EBP) to meet their needs. In response to this increasing need, constituents from across Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities and an Autism Legislative Commission spearheaded the development of this program to support professionals to increase their knowledge of working with and supporting individuals with ASD. The CGS in Autism Education is designed to help professionals understand the characteristics of ASD across the lifespan, implications of these characteristics as related to educational programming and the application of using EBP to support educational programs for people with ASD. All program courses are aligned with the initial and advanced Council for Exceptional Children's (CEC) standards for Teachers/Specialists who work with Individuals with Developmental Disabilities/Autism.

In the News

Kelly Crawford, Teacher Assistant and Dr. Paul LaCava,
CGS in Autism Education Program Director
Jennifer Flamand, Special Educator and Sue Constable, CGS faculty member

In 2015 the CGS in Autism Education program faculty decided to start something new to recognize outstanding educators working with students with autism in Rhode Island.  Our team developed the Autism Educator of the Year Award. This award is sponsored by the Sherlock Center on Disabilities and Rhode Island College.

On March 10, 2016, at the Community of Practice (CoP) on Autism spring meeting, we announced our two winners for 2016:

Autism Educator of the Year: Jennifer Flamand, Special Educator, Westerly Public Schools

Jennifer “is an extraordinary teacher, a respected leader among her colleagues, and a kind and exceptional human being devoted to student success. Her enthusiasm, love, and passion for teaching, as well as for her students is evident through her daily interactions with everyone she encounters” said Christie Johnson who nominated her.

Autism Educator Support Staff of the Year: Kelly Crawford, Teacher Assistant, Barrington Public Schools

“Kelly always presents with a smile and pleasant demeanor.  No matter the situation, she keeps her composure and deals with situations in a soft spoken manner. She is an active member of the educational team, conferring daily with the case manager regarding her students’ needs. She also accompanies her students in the community and reinforces both life and job skills in order to assist her students in generalizing these skills. Kelly truly believes that all students can learn and be productive members of society” said Amy Benevides and Debora Deese who nominated her.

Congratulations to Jennifer, Kelly and all of our 2016 applicants!

The guest speaker at the March 9 CoP event was Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Ron Suskind. Mr. Suskind’s adult son, Owen, has autism.

Suskind shared his family’s story about how they learned to use Owen’s interest in Disney to help teach him to communicate and allow him to share his talents with the world.

Based on Owen and his family’s experiences, Suskind also discussed an exciting new technology called Sidekicks that helps people with autism and other disabilities to connect with others and learn skills by tapping into their interests with an app that consists of an avatar, artificial intelligence and other technologies.

Ron Suskind
Ron Suskind, award winning journalist and parent of a son with autism and Sue Constable, CGS faculty member

Special recognition was given to RIC President Dr. Nancy Carriuolo at this event. Dr. Carriuolo has been so supportive of the work in Autism at RIC.  The CGS faculty presented her with a painting made by artist Judy Endow.

Dr. Paul LaCava, CGS in Autism Education Program Director and RIC President, Dr. Nancy Carriuolo

Course Requirements

The CGS in Autism Education is a two-year program. Click here for coursework details.

Requirements for Application

  1. A completed application form accompanied by a fifty-dollar nonrefundable application fee.
  2. One copy of all official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework.
  3. A professional license (certificate for teaching and/or related service such as occupational therapy, school psychology, speech-language therapy, etc.).
  4. Bachelor's degree required with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale in professional coursework.
  5. Three candidate reference forms accompanied by three letters of recommendation related to education and experience in special education or a related field). Submitted at Outside Linkhttp://RICreference.org/
  6. A performance based evaluation that documents the candidate's experience with individuals with ASD (see application form link above for details). While experiencing working with individuals with ASD is preferred, it is not a requirement for admission to the program.
  7. An application essay that describes the candidate's commitment to the field of Autism Education, cultural awareness, collaboration, and lifelong learning (see application form link above for details).
  8. An interview may be required.

This program is currently being offered in collaboration with the Paul. V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities. Applications for admission will not be processed until all materials have been received by the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but to ensure consideration for fall matriculation, please submit complete applications by May 1.

Gainful Employment Disclosure*

Paul LaCava
Associate Professor
Horace Mann 056
(401) 456-9703

Page last updated: March 14, 2016