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Your Dollars@Work: Building Autism Expertise Among Professionals

By Autism Speaks Assistant Director for Dissemination Science Lauren Elder.

Before joining Autism Speaks, I was providing behavioral therapy for individuals with autism and training other professionals.  I saw firsthand the need for more programs, services and support. Individuals with autism and their families should not have to wait to access the specialized care that they need. At Autism Speaks, building capacity in the professional community is a top priority.

This week we’re celebrating World Autism Awareness. Awareness of autism has risen, and that’s good news. But our medical and education professionals need more than awareness. They need to know how to effectively identify autism and provide appropriate medical, behavioral and educational support and care. 

A Portal for Professional Development
As one step in this direction, we’ve developed a professional resource page that helps health-care providers, therapists and educators connect with autism-related training opportunities.

Our current listings include training programs in diagnosis, early intervention and school-based programs. We focus on programs strongly backed by scientific evidence of effectiveness. We also emphasize training delivered by universities and other well-established institutions. We carefully screen each submission for quality.

Since this new webpage launched in November, the three most popular training programs have been:

* The Center for Autism and Related Disorders Therapist eLearning program. This program teaches therapists about Applied Behavioral Analysis through an online program.

* The Autism Diagnostic Interview, which professionals can use to interview parents as part of their child’s diagnostic evaluation.

* Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research, an intervention that teachers can deliver in the classroom.  

We’re continuing to add submissions. So please let us know if you know of a training program you’d like to submit for consideration. You can reach us at

More Autism Speaks Professional Resources
Our professional development webpage is just one of the ways that Autism Speaks is working to increase expertise and the capacity of programs that serve the growing autism community. Other examples include:

The Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network has developed gold-standard treatment guidelines for many medical conditions associated with autism. These include GI distress, sleep disorder and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. This work is made possible through the AS-ATN’s role as the federally funded Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health.

A recent Autism Speaks grant enabled the development of the AGI Daily Living/Residential Curriculum for Direct Support Providers. This training program helps build capacity in residential adult services by training service providers in evidence-based autism practices.

Our Global Autism Public Health Initiative continues to facilitate trainings for autism service providers in many countries, including Vietnam, Ecuador and China to name just a few.

We hope you’ll share these resources with doctors, therapists and other care providers. Like all our work at Autism Speaks, these resources are made possible by the generosity, hard work and passion of our large community of supporters. Thank you!


Have you or someone you know done something to light up the day of someone affected by autism?
Share your Autism Kindness Act here.


The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.