Explore careers in the autism field for Autism Acceptance Month

April 04, 2023 · 5 min read · By ASU Online
April is Autism Acceptance Month, dedicated to highlighting the need for accepting, including, supporting and empowering people on the autism spectrum. Read on to learn about autism acceptance, autism spectrum disorders, careers working with autism and the online autism spectrum disorders master's degree concentration.

What is autism acceptance and how is it different from autism awareness?

Autism acceptance is the idea that individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) should be accepted and valued for who they are, as they are. This approach emphasizes the importance of understanding and embracing neurodiversity, and recognizing autism as a natural variation of the human experience.

Autism acceptance is different from autism awareness, which focuses on educating people about autism and its characteristics. Autism acceptance involves creating a more inclusive society, where individuals with ASD have equal opportunities and are treated with respect and dignity. Encouraging inclusive employment, living and social environments can help in the acceptance of the autism community. Access to educational and social programs are vital for improving the opportunities and outcomes for those with ASD.

“Autism Acceptance Month is an opportunity to advocate and practice acceptance for the autism community through inclusion, support and connection,” said Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “No matter who you are, where you live, or your abilities, you should be able to have the connection to support, services, community and resources needed to live fully.”


What are autism spectrum disorders?

Autism affects an estimated one in 36 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ASD are developmental disabilities caused by differences in the brain. People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving or paying attention.

While there is currently no known single cause of autism, early diagnosis can help people with ASD receive the resources needed to support them. Research shows that early diagnosis of and interventions for autism are more likely to have major long-term positive effects on symptoms and life skills.


5 careers in the autism field

The steady rise in the number of those affected by autism has caused a public demand for professionals aware of the issues and needs facing these special individuals, their families and service providers. If you’re interested in helping to increase acceptance and promote positive outcomes for those with ASD, you can pursue these careers in the autism field, among others:


  • Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapist

Therapists specializing in ABA work with individuals with autism to help improve their communication, social interaction and adaptive behavior skills. They may practice in a variety of settings including schools or in a private practice.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for the group that includes substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors was $48,520 in 2021. Job openings in this field are projected to grow by 22% between 2021 and 2031, which is much faster than average.


  • Case manager/coordinator

Case managers or coordinators work with families and individuals with ASD to connect them with resources and support services in their community.

Social workers, the area that case managers and coordinators fall under, had a median salary of $50,390 in 2021, according to the BLS. Job openings in this field are expected to grow by 9% between 2021 and 2031, which is faster than average.


  • Program coordinator

People in this role work on coordinating programs and services for individuals with ASD within a community-based or nonprofit organization.

Social and community service managers, the area that program coordinators fall under, had a median salary of $74,000 in 2021, according to the BLS. The amount of job openings in this field are expected to grow by 12% between 2021 and 2031, which is much faster than average.


  • Special education teacher

These educators teach students with autism in a special education setting, typically in a public school. Special education teachers also work with general education teachers, specialists, administrators and parents to develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Students’ IEPs outline their goals, including academic or behavioral milestones and the services they should receive, such as speech therapy.

The median salary for special education teachers was $61,820 in 2021.


  • Speech-language pathologist

Speech-language pathologists help individuals with ASD improve communication skills, such as expressive and receptive language, social communication and pragmatics.

The median salary for speech-language pathologists was $79,060 in 2021, per the BLS. And the number of job openings in this field are expected to grow by 21% between 2021 and 2031 which is much faster than average.


Earn your online MA in special education degree with a concentration in ASD from Arizona State University

A degree concentration in autism spectrum disorders can open up a variety of career opportunities in the fields of autism education, research and public or nonprofit service.

ASU Online offers a Master of Arts in special education with a concentration in autism spectrum disorders that's tailored to helping you understand the needs of autistic individuals, as well as facilitating their learning and success. This program’s curriculum emphasizes a fact-based approach to understanding various and distinct ASD characteristics. You’ll have the opportunity to dispel common misconceptions and determine the credibility of sources. You’ll also learn strategies for sharing reputable information with family members of autistic individuals to ensure parents and caregivers are properly informed about ASD and ways to support their loved ones.

This program concludes with a capstone, in which you’ll build experience supporting autistic learners by completing 45 hours of approved activities in the field under the direction of a supervisor and instructor.


Earn your master's degree while working full time

With the right strategy and support, you can strike a balance between your educational goals and busy life. Learn more about the time management and strategic planning it takes for working professionals to earn their online master's degree.


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