Date of Paper

4-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Carol Kuechler

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental disorders that include deficits in social interaction, communication, and the presence of repetitive and restricted behaviors. The number of children with autism spectrum disorder has increased significantly over time, resulting in more children with autism in public schools. School social workers are members of the educational team who help support children and families and are often the first professional to whom families turn to in crisis. There is a paucity of literature and research studies on the perspectives’ of social workers who work with this population. School social workers, who are members of the Minnesota School Social Workers Association (MSSWA), participated in a survey about their perspectives on working with children who have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. They reported confidence in understanding the disorders and characteristics of autism spectrum disorders and indicated that they have received training that prepared them to work with this population. Their role in helping classmates, teachers, and parents understand the child’s disability is one way their work is distinct from the work they do with other children. As demonstrated, school social workers who received training and education on autism spectrum disorders tend to be confident in recognizing the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders. Based on the dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, there may be a need to provide education and training on autism spectrum disorders to the general population of social workers to ensure that they are confident in recognizing the characteristics and in referring children for screening.

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