Neurodiversity and Inclusion Non-Degree Professional Certificate

Participants who successfully complete all assignments and program requirements will receive a Certificate in Neurodiversity and Inclusion from the LaFetra College of Education at the University of La Verne. This professional certificate prepares teachers to serve as exemplary practitioners and mentors in this field. Those who complete the program will earn 10 non-degree university transcript applicable units (TAUs). These credits can be used to advance on a school district pay scale, but may not be applied for future credit for a graduate degree.

Certificates are non-degree and offered through partnerships with school districts to employees. Districts interested in pursuing a partnership to offer certificates can contact the dean’s office to learn more.

This professional non-degree certificate program is designed for PK-12 teachers, administrators, mental health professionals, and others seeking to enhance their ability to serve and include neurologically diverse students in all learning environments. This includes students who have been identified with, but not limited to, autism, ADHD, dyslexia, specific learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral concerns.

This is a 5 seminar program that spans over the course of one year. Each seminar offered in this certificate program promotes a multidisciplinary approach, drawing from the fields of educational neuroscience, culturally relevant teaching, universal design for learning, positive behavior support, and holistic wellness. All seminars integrate both scientific research and the practical application of strategies that enhance learning, emotional health, and self-regulation among all students. Our cutting-edge program synthesizes existing evidence-based practices and ancient holistic traditions, while boldly exploring promising future developments in the field of Neurodiversity.

Each seminar offers approximately 25 hours of online instruction over the course of 8 weeks. In addition, seminar reading, and practicum projects are assigned to deepen the experience and provide participants with a rich set of strategies that can be applied immediately in their professional practice. Upon completion of the program, participants are positioned to serve as teacher-leaders who return to their home schools with the information and skills they need to serve as mentors and advocates for the needs of neurodivergent learners in all settings.

Seminar 1: The Neurobiology of Learning: Teaching with the Brain in Mind

This seminar introduces the core elements of educational neuroscience. It provides a foundation in basic brain anatomy, as well as an understanding of how the brain and nervous system function in the process of learning. Participants will learn how neurological differences, childhood trauma, toxic stress and classroom threats interfere with learning and long-term memory. The seminar also will cover strategies for helping improve students’ executive functioning skills based on current mind-brain education research.

Seminar 2: Positive Behavior Support: Healing-Centered Engagement in the Classroom

This seminar will introduce core concepts from current behavior theories and mindfulness research to help teachers understand how relationships, attachment, and a sense of felt safety in the classroom form the basis of positive behavior support.

Seminar 3: Conscious Inclusion: Exploring CRT and Universal Design for Learning

This seminar provides an understanding of Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) as a systematic approach that is, according to Zaretta Hammond, “ …the perfect catalyst to simulate the brain’s neuroplasticity so that it grows new brain cells that help students think in more sophisticated ways.” It provides an opportunity to develop knowledge about the field of neurodiversity and the skills that promote successful inclusion strategies leading to learning, enhanced memory capacity, and community building. The CRT model promotes respect for and inclusion of cultural diversity in the classroom. The seminar also introduces research-based strategic approaches for creating successful learning environments that embrace universal design for learning (UDL) and differentiated instruction (DI) for individual needs.

Seminar 4: Assistive and Instructional Technology: Making Learning Accessible for All

This seminar serves as an introductory course in the application and evaluation of assistive technologies, devices, software, and educational tools that make learning accessible for students with special needs and/or learning differences. Teachers will be trained in the functional use of speech-to-text, text-to-speech, note taking pens, Windows and Macintosh accessibility tools, universally accessible webpage design, and other technologies designed for classroom and individual use. Participants will learn to select appropriate tools to meet individual student needs and use technology to differentiate instruction to enhance student performance.

Seminar 5: Capstone Project: Teacher Action Research for Neurodiversity and Inclusion

This capstone seminar provides an opportunity to integrate and apply the knowledge gained in the previous certificate seminars. The seminar requires participants to identify a pressing topic related to their professional role, and apply action research methods to develop an intervention or instructional program. Participants will implement their programs in an educational setting, analyze data and evaluate findings. In alignment with the mission of the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness (CNLW), this seminar will explore a variety of options for research projects that promote social and academic equity in the field of neurodiversity and inclusion. The goal is to promote a cycle of continuous improvement for programs that serve neurodivergent student populations. Teachers will receive the foundation they need to function as educational researchers in the classroom setting.

CNLW currently provides this program in partnership with San Bernardino Unified School District.

Program Highlights

  • Participants will learn methods for motivating and engaging struggling learners to help them meet their academic goals.
  • Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the unique strengths and challenges faced by students who learn differently.
  • Participants will study educational neuroscience to discover how the brain functions for learning.
  • Participants will explore culturally responsive teaching strategies that eliminate subjective bias and engage all learners with high expectations.
  • Participants will develop an understanding of how toxic stress, trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact the brain’s potential to learn and self-regulate.
  • Participants will learn effective ways to apply mindfulness practices that promote healing- centered engagement, self-regulation and emotional wellbeing for both students and teachers.
  • Participants will learn to disrupt the implicit bias that often sits at the intersection of race, socioeconomics, and special education placements.
  • Participants will develop teacher action research skills to engage in cycles of continuous improvement as they implement interventions and inclusion programs in the classroom.