Preparing Educators of Students with Autism (PESA) Certificate Courses

Preparing Educators of Students with Autism (PESA) Certificate Courses

The fully online PESA certificate program includes four upper-level graduate courses. Courses emphasize research and theory related to strengths, interests, and the central social challenge in autism. Course topics focus on developmental trajectories; approaches to intervention; and individual, family, and professional perspectives. In guided weekly discussions, students critically analyze intervention practices and related issues in reference to current research. Courses also incorporate opportunities for students to investigate topics of individual interest.


You will develop a strong foundation in understanding characteristics, developmental considerations, and implications for intervention related to ASD. This course incorporates a broad survey of issues and trends in the field and will promote critical examination of what is known and unknown, effectiveness claims in the intervention literature, and the perspectives of individuals with ASD and their families.

Understanding the social basis for communication and its relation to behavior is pivotal to addressing the challenges facing individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). You will explore unique developmental trajectories of social communication in ASD and assessment approaches that support individualized planning to build on strengths and interests. An exploration of intervention strategies will include approaches found to have established and emerging evidence of effectiveness.

Challenging behavior in ASD is impacted by both internal and environmental factors. Explore the purpose, rationale, and methods used in functional behavioral analysis and behavior intervention planning. The course will cover a full range of behavioral procedures used to decrease or eliminate these behaviors, with emphasis placed on ethical issues and the desirability of least restrictive and non-aversive strategies. This interactive learning environment will incorporate analysis of case studies, online peer debriefing, and an observation, assessment, and planning project.

This course focuses on identifying meaningful outcomes, addressing family and individual priorities, collaborating across disciplines and with families, adapting inclusive settings to accommodate individual needs, building on strengths, and creating peer-supported learning opportunities.

Successful completion of at least two other PESA courses is recommended.


You may take courses for a number of purposes:

  • As a strand of 12 credits for completion of the Certificate
  • Individually on a stand-alone basis or as an elective for another program
  • As partial fulfillment of requirements for IU’s Special Education master’s program, with or without teaching certification.

Typical Schedule of Offerings (Subject to Change)

To the extent possible, course offerings will be implemented on the following schedule:


  • K631: Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • K634: Preventing and Intervening with Challenging Behavior for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders


  • K633: Communication Development, Assessment, and Intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • K635: Evidence-Based Professional Practice to Support School-Based Learning for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

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