April 24th, 2014
I thought I’d outline the four most common career routes to a medical profession working with autistic children.
Since language and communication hardships are two primary aspects of the autism spectrum disorder, individuals with this specialty training are in high demand in the clinical setting. Speech-language pathologists work with children to improve their motor speech and lessen their cognitive-communication delays. These professionals usually have a master’s or doctoral degree in speech-language pathology.
Applied Behavior Analyst
Less affectionately known as “behavior modification”, this practice designs systems of interactive backed with positive reinforcement. This is the most common method of behavioral treatment for autistic children. To enter this specialty you’ll want to become a licensed clinical psychologist or achieve a doctoral degree in behavior analysis. Board certification would also be required here.
In this medical specialty we take a step back from direct behavior analysis and look at how an individual relates to their environment. An occupational therapist’s primary goal is to help people feel and live independently. Obviously this is a hugely necessary part of treating autism. A master’s or doctoral degree in occupational therapy is required.
Educator of Special Needs
For those wanting a more fast-track path to a career, consider a non-medical setting. A special education teacher is trained to assist children with a vast array of learning disabilities. Your workplace will almost always be a public or private school. A BA or BS in special education is all you need here.