Graduate Level Research Paper On Autism

Degrees & Programs

Special Education

Preparing Educators of Students with Autism (PESA) Certificate

The PESA program is comprised of five upper-level graduate courses focusing on autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The courses review current research and evidence-based practices in autism assessment and intervention and incorporate perspectives of individuals with ASD and their families. Completion of the five-course certificate provides evidence that you have developed, strengthened, and/or updated your knowledge and skills in the area of ASD at the graduate level. 

PESA courses are open both to students who wish to pursue a certificate in this discipline and those who wish to take them on a stand-alone basis or in fulfillment of a graduate-level minor. The courses may be used to meet requirements for a variety of academic programs, including the Special Ed M.S. and Special Ed Ph.D. Courses are offered completely online and are available to domestic and international students. Those who complete the full program will receive documentation on their university transcript.

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We also offer independent study for courses that are not currently offered. Please contact us for more information.

Indiana University (IU) is a leading research institution with a broad international reach. The School of Education combines research initiatives with a strong teaching mission. Recently the IU School of Education earned top-ten rankings among public university graduate schools for five of its degree programs, including Curriculum and Instruction, which houses the PESA program. Extensive information technology support and instructional consulting are provided.

Student Experiences

"The online format gives me a chance to reflect on what I‘m going say and refine my ideas before posting them. From the beginning through the end, course expectations were clear and I could always go back and look at my instructor’s directions.”

“I feel engaged when I see the relationship between my readings and what’s going on in my practice. I am also surprised by how much I learn from the experiences of my fellow classmates. The information that they shared helps me see how what we learned can be applied in multiple settings.” 


This certificate program does not directly lead to teacher licensure. 


Images are from the Third National Painting Exhibition of Children with Autism 2010 sponsored by the Beijing Rehabilitation Association of Autistic Children. 

Before you enroll in a graduate program to study autism, you should give some thought to possible capstone project ideas for graduate degrees in autism studies. A capstone project is one of the last things that you’ll do in graduate school and functions in the same way that a thesis does. Instead of writing a paper based on your own research, the graduate school will ask you to take your research into the field or create a project on that research. According to The Glossary of Education Reform, these are long-term projects that you might work on for a year or longer. While there are a number of projects you can do, you may want to concentrate your project on one specific area.

Intervention Strategies

Some of the capstone project ideas for graduate degrees in autism studies focus on intervention strategies. Intervention refers to the way in which parents begin working with their children. These strategies may involve bringing in an ABA therapist, using motor skills programs or teaching students to feel more comfortable when around other people. You can create a project that shows which strategies are the most successful.

Related: Top 25 Online Master’s Degrees Focused on Autism

Effective Treatment Ideas

Autism is a medical condition that has no known cure, but parents and educators can still use various treatments as a way to reduce symptoms and help those kids. When doing a project on effective treatment options, you’ll look at common forms of treatment like ABA therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy. You can base your project around which treatment you think is most effective or how children on different parts of the spectrum react to each one.

New Research Help

As you near the end of your education, you might look at capstone project ideas for graduate degrees in autism studies that will help parents of children recently diagnosed with autism. These parents may feel scared or nervous about what the future holds. You can build a brand new website that goes over treatment options, talks about intervention strategies, features a message board/forum for users to talk with others and includes success stories from adults with autism.

After-school Programs

Though many schools have special needs classrooms available, very few offer after-school programs for kids with autism and special needs. When looking at capstone topic ideas, consider doing a project on new programs for these kids. You might talk about the benefits of after-school programs before showing research you did in the field. You can even work with a local school and introduce a new after-school program that offers activities for kids with autism.

Classroom Management

Classroom management is an important part of being a teacher. You must understand how to take control of the classroom and what to do with kids who act out. As a student looking at capstone project ideas for graduate degrees in autism studies, think about projects based around classroom management. These projects let you introduce new methods of dealing with verbal and non-verbal autistic students. You might focus on maintaining a room that makes every student feel safe and comfortable, a classroom that uses rewards for those who behave themselves or other methods that teachers can use when working with special needs students.

As a graduate student enrolled in an autism studies program, you will need to submit a capstone project at the end of your senior year. You may even have the chance to present your work in front of professors working in your department. Before enrolling, make sure you look at some capstone project ideas for graduate degrees in autism studies to get an idea of what type of project you want to do.

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