Preparing Educators of Students with Autism (PESA) Certificate Courses

Preparing Educators of Students with Autism (PESA) Certificate Courses

Each individual with autism is unique. Develop the expertise necessary to provide instruction, intervention and support to individuals with autism and their families. Together we can improve the lives of all those on the autism spectrum.

Weekly units provide posted readings, guided activities, asynchronous and synchronous discussion, small group collaboration, interactive audio and video formats, online assessment, and explicit feedback on discussions and assignments. Technical support is available to enhance the interactive experience.


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.

The study of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is burgeoning with a wealth of accumulating research on neurological underpinnings, approaches to identification and intervention practices. This course focuses on social development in ASD, assessment and planning, creating supportive and inclusive learning environments, strategies for intervention, and case analysis and application.

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 utilize analysis of case studies, online peer debriefing, and application of strategies in the field.

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.

Pre-requisites: Successful completion of courses #1, #2, #3, and #4 from the list above is required for enrollment in this course.


You may take courses for a number of purposes:

  • As a strand of 15 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.

Anticipated Schedule of Offerings (Tentative)

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

  • Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders: Fall
  • Promoting Social Competency in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Summer
  • Communication Development, Assessment, and Intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Spring
  • Preventing and Intervening with Challenging Behavior for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Fall
  • Evidenced-based Professional Practice to Support Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Spring