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Doctor of Special Education, Autism Spectrum

My sport, women’s wrestling, is new and we have momentum, increasing ten-fold in as many years. As a teacher and a coach, I seek to harness this energy towards the design of sports programs specifically for children with Autism. My investment in women’s wrestling pales in comparison to my investment in issues related to Autism-spectrum because 2 of my 3 children are on that spectrum. This is why I made a career change from literature to education and why I feel that I have something special to contribute to the Special Education Doctoral Program at XXXX University where I am currently earning my Master’s Degree. For several years now, I have enjoyed my own Autism laboratory at home, complete with two subjects and my only non-Autistic child serving as the control group. This will continue to help me to excel as a researcher and a teacher.

The most challenging and also the most exciting aspect of my M.Ed. Program at XXXX has been the applied behavioral analysis component. I am currently conducting research in my English classroom based on the concept of ‘direct instruction’, measuring student progress as a result of ‘precision teaching’. I am new at this and I feel very strongly that I want to continue with this avenue of research on a doctoral level; in fact, for the balance of my professional life. Thus, I am gearing up in my mind and heart for doctoral studies and I hope to be accepted to your program at Penn State because I feel so comfortable here; well established with schools, professional contacts, etc. I am working on a proposal to submit for a poster session at the National Autism Conference that XXXXe hosts in August. XXXX is the ideal location for me to continue to learn how to best adapt the way that I teach to the unique needs of my students. I go to IEP meetings now armed with data that can be of assistance to parents as well as teachers.

I have 3 children. My daughter Elizabeth is 11 and she has Asperger Syndrome. Nevertheless, she is also gifted; and she does really well academically without much intervention. My second child, my son James, is "high-functioning Autistic" although I normally define it as "he has autism." My third child, Sammy, is "normal," whatever that means. As little Sammy the infant macho man has grown, I have paused to reflect on the extent to which ‘aggression’ can be positive, aiding in the development of something that was clearly missing with my older son who came before, perhaps my daughter as well. Wrestling can be good for you and I have tussled with Sammy since the day he was born.

I believe I am a good fit with the culture and directions of your program at XXXX. I also feel strongly that I have something important of great value to contribute to the academic community and the teaching profession with respect to the study of antecedent interventions in the secondary classroom, as a way to reduce problem behavior. We have a PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support) group at my school and I serve as a Tier 2/Tier 3 coordinator. I would like to design simple, effective strategies that teachers can use to increase motivation and decrease challenging behaviors. This is why I have been especially inspired by the research of XXXX Professors XXXX and XXXX. I want to earn the doctorate so that I become much better at what I do: developing programs for progress monitoring and curriculum development at the high school level. I could not be more inspired, in particular, by the support of Dr. XXXX who currently serves as my Adviser. She has encouraged me to apply to your program. Finally, XXXX is currently ranked #1 in wrestling.

I thank you for your consideration of my application.

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