Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Carolyn McAllister, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study was to examine the ability of students in the Master of Social Work (MSW) program to correctly identify signs of autism in children by completing a survey. This research project was conducted in collaboration with California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) and the MSW program by using MSW students as participants. The study used a survey designed with items that measured the knowledge of participants. The results of this study may be beneficial to the Director of Social Work, future MSW students, and professors to examine how well the current MSW program is preparing students to work with children that have autism. Ultimately, this study may improve the MSW program and curriculum that could benefit future social workers and their competence in the field.

The results of this study found significance between amount of previous work experience with children who have autism and their scores on the survey, as well as their experience with children who have autism from learning about it in a course, personal interaction, or work experience. However, there were not significant findings regarding MSW standing or field of interest and autism scores. This can be determined to mean MSW students have knowledge of autism from previous work experience, but there are no findings that indicate the MSW program at CSUSB is additionally preparing students with an understanding of the nature, primary symptoms of, and treatment of autism. This may also mean students are able to retain more knowledge regarding autism based on their experiences directly working with children who have autism, rather than learning about it in a course. The findings of this study are beneficial to improve upon the CSUSB curriculum for the MSW program to incorporate autism into more courses to increase knowledge of autism symptoms, diagnostic criteria, and treatment options, as well as including more fieldwork opportunities with this population.