Council for Exceptional Children and Autism Society of America Release Professional Competencies for Teachers of Autism

August 6, 2009


pdf File developmental disabilities autism initial k and s set.pdf (26KB) [download]

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St. Charles, IL (July 24, 2009)
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Autism Society announced today the publication of professional competencies for teaching students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at the Autism Society's 40th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders. The competencies will be incorporated into the CEC's resource on highly qualified teachers entitled, "What Every Special Educator Needs to Know."

"As the incidence of autism has increased, universities and colleges created their own version of competencies to guide program development," said Dr. Cathy Pratt, Director of the Indiana Resource Center on Autism and the Autism Society Board Chair, who worked on the competencies. "With the release of these competencies and through the leadership of the Autism Society and CEC, there is now a national standard that can be used for both course and program creation and for professional development in schools.  This will increase the probability that new teachers will enter the classroom with the skills and knowledge needed to educate students across the autism spectrum." 

These professional competencies contain "Knowledge and Skill Standards" (what you should know and what you should know how to do) for beginning teachers and for those special educators moving into advanced ASD roles. These standards represent the knowledge and skill base that professionals entering practice or assuming advanced roles should possess to practice safely and effectively. These competencies are based on the best autism research and will be part of the CEC and CEC/NCATE accreditation that universities go through in designing their special education curriculum.

"These competencies will have tremendous impact in local schools," said Lee Grossman. "Parents will now be able to feel confident that their children's teachers are trained according to evidenced-based standards- something that has not existed until now." The competencies were drafted through a grant from the Autism Society and with support from the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI).  The Autism Society's Network of Autism Training and Technical Assistance Programs (NATTAP) conducted research and technical assistance in this process. Family members and individuals on the spectrum were also involved in the development process. NATTAP will be integral in the implementation and training of the use of competencies in school districts. The competencies will also be part of the Autism Internet Modules, a platform with 80 modules under development which provide evidence-based content based on the competencies. The competencies will also included in textbooks that will be used by universities in their classrooms.

About NCATE: 
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) currently accredits 632 colleges of education with nearly 100 more seeking NCATE accreditation.  NCATE is a coalition of 33 Member Organizations of teachers, teacher educators, content specialists, and local and state policy makers. All are committed to quality teaching, and together, the coalition represents over 3 million individuals. The U. S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognized NCATE as a professional accrediting body for teacher preparation.

About the Council for Exceptional Children:
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. CEC advocates for appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides professional development, advocates for individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice. To learn more about CEC, please visit or call 888 232 7733.

About the Autism Society: 
Founded in 1965, the Autism Society is the nation's leading grassroots autism organization, which exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. Through a nationwide network of local chapters ASA works to increase public awareness about issues important to people on the autism spectrum - advocating so individuals have access to appropriate services throughout their lifetime, and providing accurate information regarding treatment, education, research and public policy. For more information or to get involved, please visit

About Autism:
Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disability that typically appears during the first two years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.