Director, Post-baccalaureate Certificate Program in Autism Studies
Raising a child on the autism spectrum, Connie Anderson learned a lot about disease advocacy. “It continues to amaze me that there is still so little understanding of what autism actually is,” says Anderson. “It’s common even for professionals who serve individuals with autism, such as educators and health or mental health professionals, to know very little about the gifts and challenges associated with it.”
While applying her research and advocacy skills at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Interactive Autism Network (IAN), Anderson began teaching part time at Towson University. She became passionate about the Post-baccalaureate Certificate (PBC) Program in Autism Studies, and jumped at the chance to direct the graduate program.
“TU is addressing an unmet need through its PBC in Autism Studies,” says Anderson. “Professionals who enter the field need credentials and are eager for information to build their knowledge base.”
Anderson’s ultimate dream is to contribute to school, health care and other key systems that are understanding and friendly to individuals with autism. “We must create change in the community about how people view autism,” says Anderson. “That means seeding the community with empathetic, autism-savvy professionals who can change the culture around them.”
In addition to teaching, Anderson is pursuing an interview-based research project on outcomes for young adults on the spectrum after they graduate from high school. “It is very exciting to provide the information on young adult outcomes that is so urgently needed right now. At the same time, I love interacting with students and making an impact in the community.”