Duties and responsibilities
An autism consultant assists the students, and their families and teachers, who have autism. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. Autism consultants provide professional advice to schools and teachers on how to improve the autistic students functioning and school progression. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Visiting educational settings and community settings and liaising with other professionals in these settings
- Observing the behavior of autistic children in the various settings
- Devising interventions and plans for autistic children, that aim to help them function better at school
- Advising, guiding and instructing other professionals (e.g., teachers or social workers) on intervention strategies
- Analyzing and reviewing the progress of autistic children
- Maintaining effective record of interventions and the support provided to each child
- Offering advice as to how educational settings can further progress their support to all autistic children
As an absolute minimum, autism consultants will need a bachelors degree in a related field, such as psychology or special education. Ideally, autism consultants will also have achieved a masters degree in special education or developmental and/or educational psychology. This education, combined with relevant experience, will give autism consultants the detailed understanding of autism that is required.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as an in depth understanding of autism, autism consultants will need:
- Verbal and written communication skills as they will need to communicate with autistic children, their parents and a range of other professionals. They must also maintain records and files to the highest standard and make clear and concise notes
- Leadership skills, as autism consultants will be in charge of directing and instructing other professionals (e.g., teachers or social workers) and they must be able to do this confidently
- Problem solving skills are essential in order to provide the most effective interventions for both the individual child and the school as a whole
- Self-motivation, as autism consultants will spend a lot of time working alone and directing their own work
Most autism consultants will work full-time. They may set up their own private practice or become independent consultants and will therefore often set their own hours. They may have to work evenings or weekends to accommodate clients.
According to the glassdoor, the average annual salary for an autism specialist in the United States is $39,174 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $31,000 per year and the highest 10% earned over $46,000. Note, this is for autism specialists. Autism consultants are likely to be self-employed and own their own practices, and will therefore potentially earn more than this.
Overall, psychology professions are expected to have excellent employment opportunities over the coming years. There will be no exception for autism consultants, as the education system will continue to see the importance of improving the functioning and lives of autistic children. Autism consultants can progress further by taking additional training (e.g., special degrees). This will give them the further knowledge and skills to open their own practice.