In ASU Online’s program, some courses are more theoretical, while others are applied, says Rotheram-Fuller. “We have a practicum experience where all our students have to do an intervention and work with an individual with autism or another disorder. It’s an inquiry process of learning about how to apply strategies. It’s an applied field, not just theoretical. We want our students to have that experience in real life.”
In fact, many ASU students already have real-life experiences with autism, which led them to the program. Rotheram-Fuller says she’s seen a demographic shift in recent years. Now, more interventionists and administrators are entering the ABA program, and more teachers, paraprofessionals, and people who have loved ones with autism are entering the ASD program.
“In one of my courses, I had a grandmother who just wanted to know how to help her granddaughter,” says Rotheram-Fuller. “Most of our students are already familiar with autism because they have a child, a kid in their classroom, or, as a paraprofessional, kids in their school with autism. They are already providing some level of support to individuals with autism, and that's why they've come back to school because they really want to learn more.”