Saint Joseph’s University: A One-Stop Center for Autism Support

Saint Joseph’s University has innovatively and creatively devoted efforts to address the rising need for community resources, individual mentorship, and extensive training with the development of The Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support.

Addressing Autism: The Fastest Growing Developmental Disability in the Nation

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has risen to 1 in 59 children  and is one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the nation. With early intervention and significant support services available throughout high school, and with more than 50, 000 teenagers with ASD turning 18 every year, the need for transition services has also risen.

Innovative Services and Support

Since 2009, the dual mission of The Kinney Center is to educate and train the autism professionals of tomorrow, while supporting and serving the individuals and families affected by autism today. With its rapid expansion and strong regional presence, they now serve over 800 families of children and adults who are newly diagnosed, school-aged or transitioning into adulthood with evidence-based behavioral health services through a number of initiatives and programs.

Mentoring: The Scholars Program

Camp Kinney counselor Jenn Madara works on an art project with camper Charlie Trusk
Photo Credit: Saint Joseph’s University

One such program, the Scholars Program is comprised of undergraduate students majoring in autism, elementary education, psychology or special education, affectionately called SCHOLARS (Students Committed to Helping Others Learn about Autism Research and Support). The program prepares future professionals to have an immediate impact in the field of autism through extensive training and supervision to provide individual support to participants in the youth, adult and transitional programs. 

Expert Training and Leadership

With oversight from Dr. Michelle Rowe, Executive Director at the Kinney Center, a biopsychologist, and Professor of Health Services at SJU, Scholars participate in the administration of programs that positively impact the lives of individuals with autism through social skill classes, sports programs, recreation based summer camp, a college age program and a siblings group. Dr. Rowe has authored over 70 peer-reviewed scholarly papers, chapters and presentations, and her extensive expertise in autism related disorders and interdisciplinary health services, provides a unique perspective to her undergraduate and graduate students.

Similarly, under the tutelage of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (See more about the Board Certified Behavior Analyst credential here), Scholars are engaged in over 2000 hours of professional experience involving the principles of ABA, classroom management tools, behavior protocols, CPR/first aid, and crisis prevention/intervention techniques, all prior to graduation.

At the undergraduate level, incoming high school students can enroll in SJU’s apprenticeship program that serves over 100 families during the summer at Camp Kinney, thereby gaining immediate experience and exposure into their field of autism related studies.

Career Enhancement

Get the skills needed for today's inclusion classroom St. Joseph's University

As you exit the Scholars Program, armed with the mentorship and extensive training and leadership received at the Kinney Center, you won’t have to venture far to continue your education at the graduate level.

Recognized internationally as only 1 of 9 that exceed the International Dyslexia Association’s standards of approval, SJU’s Masters of Special Education program is the next step in advancing your career.

Whether you prefer working with primary school aged children or secondary, Saint Joseph’s special education program will prepare you to meet the rigorous standards of certification for the Pennsylvania Department of Education and carries reciprocity in many other states. 

Specialization concentrations offered within this program of study include:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration
    Prepares individuals to address the demands of challenging behaviors seen in Special Education settings. The courses are intended to prepare students for the BCBA certification exam.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement
    Focuses on proper diagnosis and ongoing lesson delivery across the entire autism spectrum, with emphasis on skill development and behavioral modification.
  • Special Education Certification
    Prepares you to help meet the needs of students with learning disabilities and other special needs.
  • Wilson Reading System® Certification
    Teaches multi-sensory reading education for students in a variety of settings. One of the only online programs trusted to teach the Wilson Reading System®.

To learn more about the resources offered for individuals with autism or their caregivers, signup for the Kinney Center mailing list

If you are an undergraduate student with high aspirations of serving children and adults with disabilities and their families, apply today to further your education and enhance your skills by obtaining your Master of Science degree in Special Education. 

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