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Insight into College Life: My Experience with the B.A. in Exceptional Student Education Program

The Exceptional Student Education program at Albizu University officially started in the fall of 2015 to address the critical shortage of teachers specializing in working with students with disabilities, including those with autism. Graduates typically go on to pursue graduate degrees in exceptional student education, speech/language pathology, occupational therapy, or applied behavior analysis. A standout component of the program is the minor in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This addition prepares future professionals to obtain the Florida Endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorders, allowing graduates to work with the autism population in the Florida school system.

There are so many benefits to being a student in the program. I was personally very intrigued by the courses in the autism minor. Many of these—like Nature of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Behavior Management and Support, and Identification of Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder—have prepared me to effectively work in school settings with students with ASD. I’m now not only able to understand the students’ challenges at the social-communication, cognitive, and sensory levels but also have the skills to anticipate possible triggers for their maladaptive behaviors and to plan interventions to effectively decrease the incidence of such behaviors. In addition, the autism minor allowed me to acquire knowledge and strategies to support the learning of students with ASD. I became more sensitive to an individual’s unique characteristics as it relates to his or her learning process, which positively impacted my effectiveness as an elementary education tutor.

In addition to my interest in the autism minor, courses like Diagnosis and Remediation of Language, Communication Disorders, and Reading Disorders introduced me to the techniques for and various approaches to the recognition, assessment, diagnosis, and remediation of language disorders. In these courses I was introduced to some of the speech and language challenges children with autism may face. These classes inspired my curiosity in the field of Speech/Language Pathology and my decision to pursue a master’s degree in the field at Albizu University.

Having completed my B.A. in the Exceptional Student Education program, I feel confident and prepared to move on to my next educational goals. The program allowed me to learn from professors who currently work in the field and who have taught me not only from the instructional material but also from their own personal experiences. I have successfully moved on to being accepted into the Masters of Speech and Language program and will begin in the fall of 2018. My goal is to eventually work with children on the autism spectrum in either a school or clinical setting.

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