General Studies (Autism Studies Concentration)

Concentration in Autism Studies

Michelle Rowe, PhD, Chair, Health Services
Eileen Sullivan, Pharm.D., Program Director

Learning Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Students will know and understand the potential causes, symptoms and diagnostic criteria of autism spectrum disorders as well as the specific needs of individuals with autism across the lifespan and how they are treated.

Objective 1.1: Demonstrate knowledge of the current theories on the causes of autism spectrum disorders.

Objective 1.2: Demonstrate knowledge of the frequency, characteristics, symptoms, and diagnostic criteria of individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Objective 1.3: Demonstrate knowledge of the nature of stereotypes, stigma, and discrimination of individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Goal 2: Students will know and understand the unique and specific behavioral needs of individuals with autism as well as both medical and behavioral approaches to autism treatment and related issues.

Objective 2.1: Identify the behavioral needs of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and demonstrate the current behavioral approaches to treating behavioral issues of individuals with autism using Applied Behavior Analysis and medically related therapeutic services.

Objective 2.2: Demonstrate the ability to communicate orally and in writing in the language of the discipline and particularly on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. 

Goal 3: Students will understand, follow and demonstrate the ethics guidelines and professional codes of conduct for working with individuals with autism.

Objective 3.1: Demonstrate the roles and responsibilities of behavior analysts, therapists, allied health professionals and related staff, and demonstrate understanding of ethics guidelines in working with individuals with autism.

Objective 3.2: Graduates will act as responsible citizens, embracing personal and career objectives that honor and serve individuals with autism and their families. 

Goal 4: Students will identify and understand the difficulties that families face in coping with autism and the impact of paying for autism-related services, as well as the social and economic impact on families and on society.

Objective 4.1: Identify the impact on parents, siblings, families, and friends of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and demonstrate how to best help these individuals cope with associated stress.

Objective 4.2: Identify the impact of political issues, including funding and approval of services, around autism spectrum disorders.

Goal 5: Students will demonstrate how to collect behavioral data using Applied Behavior Analysis; to measure the progress of individuals with autism; to develop behavioral plans for individuals with autism; and/or to conduct research on individuals with autism or on related treatment plans.

Objective 5.1: Collect data on the progress of individuals with autism and develop behavioral plans; or collect data for the purpose of conducting research on a particular topic in the field of autism.

Objective 5.2: Identify and demonstrate methods to empirically assess and evaluate the progress of individuals with autism spectrum disorders for the purpose of developing intervention plans.

General Education Program Courses

(See Curricula)

Social Science
PSY 100Introductory Psychology3

GEP Integrative Learning Component

Two approved courses offered in psychology or education

Autism Studies Concentration

IHS 465Intro:Autism Spectrum Disorder3
IHS 466ABA and Autism Treatment3
IHS 467Social Skills Dev. and Autism3
IHS 473Advanced Principles of ABA4
IHS 474Functional Analysis and Ethics4
IHS 480ABA Practicum I3
IHS 481ABA Practicum II3
IHS 482ABA Practicum III3

If pursuing the Board Certified Assistant Behavioral Analyst (BCaBA) credential, the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB) requires a grade of “C” or better in the behavioral analysis and practicum courses (IHS 466IHS 482).  Courses must be completed in the sequence outlined above.

Experience Requirement for the Board Certified Assistant Behavioral Analyst (BCaBA) Credential

Students who plan to pursue the BCaBA credential must complete an experience requirement under the supervision of a Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB) approved supervisor.  For additional information on options for completing this experience requirement, please see the BACB website at

The SJU adult learner program offers an intensive practicum to meet the BACB experience requirement.  This includes three (3) practicum courses (IHS 480, IHS 481 and IHS 482) which require 19+ hours per week on site, supervised by a BACB approved supervisor.  As an alternative, students may opt to complete the experience requirement through independent supervised fieldwork. 

If a student opts to not complete the intensive practicum courses at SJU, substitute courses may be completed for the degree requirements.  IHS 480 may be replaced with an approved alternate upper division social science course.  IHS 481  and IHS 482  may be replaced with free electives.