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Special Education Severe Disabilities Program

The Severe Disabilities Program at Peabody College prepares master’s level professionals to teach children and young adults with autism, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, and other developmental disabilities. The goal of the program is to prepare future special education teachers with evidence-based strategies to enhance the learning and outcomes of these students.

Coursework focuses on assessment and intervention strategies found to be effective with this population of students. In addition, the program offers opportunities to work with students in various K-12 settings and students being served in community-based and postsecondary settings. Students spend time in diverse field-based experiences, allowing them to apply the course content to practical settings. During these experiences, students have opportunities to collaborate with teachers, school staff members, and other professionals who provide services to these students.


Graduates of our program will graduate well-prepared to:

  • Complete essential assessments of students’ present levels of performance across multiple areas (e.g., communication, academics, behavior).
  • Use assessment results to develop goals and plan instruction based on students’ strengths and areas of need.
  • Provide evidence-based instruction to students with severe disabilities following alternative learning standards.
  • Provide access to the general curriculum for students in inclusive settings through appropriate modifications and accommodations.
  • Monitor students’ progress towards goals and make data-based instructional decisions regarding each student’s progress.
  • Incorporate the use of assistive technology in the classroom setting.
  • Plan and incorporate the need to evaluate students’ future goals in order to ensure success beyond the school setting.
  • Complete functional behavioral assessments and develop and implement function-based behavior intervention plans in the classroom.
  • Collaborate effectively with professionals and families in the education of students with severe disabilities.

Graduates can receive a license or endorsement in the area of severe disabilities (or, “comprehensive disabilities” in the state of Tennessee)