Certificate of Graduate Study (C.G.S.) in Autism Education

The CGS in Autism Education was driven by regional need and was developed by various constituents across Rhode Island. The program was created to support professionals who currently work with individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or who plan to do so in the future. The program's purpose is to extend professionals' knowledge and skills and ultimately the capacity of professionals, school districts, community providers, etc. to effectively teach and support individuals with ASD.

Autism is currently conceptualized as a spectrum of similar life-long disabilities. A prevalence increase has been reported since the early 1990s with the most recent data supporting a rate of all ASD at about 1 in 68 (CDC, 2014). Causes for these dramatic increases remain controversial, but the implications are clear. Children with ASD must be identified as early as possible and subsequently provided with evidence-based practices (EBP) to meet their needs. In response to this increasing need, constituents from across Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities and an Autism Legislative Commission spearheaded the development of this program to support professionals to increase their knowledge of working with and supporting individuals with ASD. The CGS in Autism Education is designed to help professionals understand the characteristics of ASD across the lifespan, implications of these characteristics as related to educational programming and the application of using EBP to support educational programs for people with ASD. All program courses are aligned with the initial and advanced Council for Exceptional Children's (CEC) standards for Teachers/Specialists who work with Individuals with Developmental Disabilities/Autism.

In the News

Dr. Paul LaCava, CGS Program Director and Michele Hamill, Speech Language Pathologist Laura Blecharczyk, Assistant Special Education Director, Robert Rocchio, Jr., School Social Worker; Sue Constable, CGS faculty member; and Dr. Sally Mitchell, Special Education Director

Last year the CGS faculty decided to start something new to recognize all the great work that goes on in Rhode Island with students with autism. So our team developed the Autism Educator of the Year Award. This award is sponsored by the Sherlock Center on Disabilities and Rhode Island College.

Submissions were vetted by our CGS faculty team and our finalists for 2015 were:

  • Laurie Campfield, Educator, Jamestown Public Schools
  • Ashley Delahunt, Educator, North Kingston Schools
  • Jennifer Flamand, Educator, Westerly Public Schools
  • Andrea Hamlin, Diagnostic Prescriptive Teacher, Cranston Public Schools
  • Michele Hamill, SLP, Scituate School Department
  • Lori Johnson, Educator, Pathways Strategic Planning Center
  • Jeff Lockhart, Educator, Warwick Public Schools
  • Robert Rocchio, Jr., Social Worker, Johnston Public Schools

On March 10 at the Community of Practice on Autism spring meeting, we announced our two winners for 2015: Michele Hamill, Scituate School Department and Robert Rocchio, Jr., Johnston Public Schools.

Michele Hamill is a speech language pathologist for the Scituate School Department and works at Clayville Elementary and North Scituate Elementary Schools. Beyond her typical duties providing direct and indirect speech language services for a very large caseload of students with disabilities, Michele also implements workshops and professional development for her district and community on a number of important topics, including ASD.

Robert Rocchio, Jr., has been a social worker for the Johnston School Department for over 16 years and currently works at Barnes Elementary and Brown Avenue Elementary Schools. Robert provides direct and indirect services to students and specializes in ASD. He also mentors and provides support to many Johnston educators as they plan and implement programs for students with ASD.

Mr. Rocchio ’13, and Mrs. Hamill ’10, are former graduates of RIC’s CGS in Autism Education program. Congratulations to Robert and Michelle and all our finalists!


Course Requirements

The CGS in Autism Education is a two-year program. Click here for coursework details.

Requirements for Application

  1. A completed application form accompanied by a fifty-dollar nonrefundable application fee.
  2. One copy of all official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework.
  3. A professional license (certificate for teaching and/or related service such as occupational therapy, school psychology, speech-language therapy, etc.).
  4. Bachelor's degree required with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale in professional coursework.
  5. Three candidate reference forms accompanied by three letters of recommendation related to education and experience in special education or a related field). Submitted at Outside Linkhttp://RICreference.org/
  6. A performance based evaluation that documents the candidate's experience with individuals with ASD (see application form link above for details). While experiencing working with individuals with ASD is preferred, it is not a requirement for admission to the program.
  7. An application essay that describes the candidate's commitment to the field of Autism Education, cultural awareness, collaboration, and lifelong learning (see application form link above for details).
  8. An interview may be required.

This program is currently being offered in collaboration with the Paul. V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities. Applications for admission will not be processed until all materials have been received by the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but to ensure consideration for fall matriculation, please submit complete applications by May 1.

Gainful Employment Disclosure*

Paul LaCava
Associate Professor
Horace Mann 056
(401) 456-9703

Page last updated: October 30, 2015