For Immediate Release

Contact:Deborah Gilleran

Georgian Court University to Offer Educators Advanced Courses on Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Workshop Offered at GCU April 25

Lakewood, N.J., Mar. 30, 2007—Autism strikes 1 out of every 150 children in the United States, and the number is even higher in New Jersey: 1 in 95. Georgian Court University is empowering educators with five new master’s-level courses on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) so they can help children with autism achieve and succeed. The courses will make up a Selected Strand in the Master of Arts in Education program at the university.

“Our goal is to provide educators who complete these courses the best, research-based instruction currently available to teach children with ASD,” says Lynn DeCapua, Ph.D., GCU assistant professor of education. Dr. DeCapua is also a New Jersey-licensed psychologist, New Jersey-certified school psychologist, and New Jersey-certified teacher of children with disabilities.

“The courses focus on early identification and intervention, and include effective strategies to facilitate communication and social skills while eliminating self-stimulating and aggressive behaviors,” she adds.

She explains that the first of the five master’s-level courses will be offered in Fall 2007, and the remaining courses will follow.

“The courses are designed for both special- and general-education teachers,” she says.

Dr. DeCapua emphasizes, “It is critical for teachers of children with ASD to be knowledgeable and competent in applying research-based methods of instruction that are effective in order for these children to learn and succeed.”

The mission of the Georgian Court University School of Education is to be New Jersey’s leader in teacher preparation and educational leadership.

“In keeping with our mission, we want to best meet the needs of children with ASD who are so prevalent in our area. After examining the research and meeting with professionals in the field, we believe that one meaningful way we could address these needs would be by developing an outstanding teacher preparation program specifically designed for children with ASD,” Dr. DeCapua says.

The program was designed with significant assistance from Ellen Murphy, an authority in the field of ASD, and an educational and behavioral consultant with more than 30 years expertise in ASD. Ms. Murphy will be teaching the first course in the fall.

“Ellen is a former consultant to the New York City Public School System who helped establish their ASD program. She is also a former consultant and teacher at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center in New Brunswick, one of the most recognized special schools for children with ASD in New Jersey, and is presently the educational consultant for the East Brunswick School District,” Dr. DeCapua remarks.

“Ellen Murphy has a lifetime of experience in working with autistic children,” says Benedict Trigani, Ph.D., professor of education, who also helped to develop the GCU courses.

“She is widely respected and is recognized by the courts as an expert witness and authority on autism. There is no one I would trust more to help prepare our graduate students in understanding the special needs of children with ASD,” he adds.

Ms. Murphy will be presenting a workshop open to professional educators on Wednesday, April 25, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Raymond Hall North Dining Room on GCU’s Lakewood campus. The free workshop will provide an overview of current research and effective strategies for teaching children with ASD. Space is limited, and advanced registration is required. To register, educators should contact the GCU Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732.987.2263 or and provide their name and school district. For more information about the workshop, call Dr. DeCapua at 732.987.2771.

To learn more about the Selected Strand in Autism for GCU’s M.A. in Education program, contact Gene Soltys, director of graduate admissions, at 732.987.2770 or e-mail

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at 90 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge and at Coastal Communiversity in Wall and Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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