Understanding the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their implications for behavior, learning and the ability to process information is critical for anyone working or interacting with those on the spectrum — educators, clinicians, counselors, therapists, medical staff, family and employers. This course will give you a fundamental understanding of what ASD is, how it is diagnosed, the primary areas of impairment, and why prevalence is increasing.
Examine the developmental and sensori-motor differences that may impact academic, play, social and self-help skills at different stages of life, including the transition to higher education and employment. Gain a clear understanding of how sensory regulation differs for individuals on the spectrum, and explore practical tools for identifying triggers and communicating feelings. Learn to use evidence-based practices to provide effective interventions and explore typical strengths and weaknesses of individuals on the spectrum in relation to identified impairments.
The course culminates with a description of the ASD system of care, an overview of the National Standards Report studies and treatments, and an explanation of how evidence-based practices are established and implemented.
Those seeking a more in-depth, instructor-led experience are encouraged to check out the Professional Concentration in Autism offered by UC Davis Extension: https://extension.ucdavis.edu/certificate-program/professional-concentration-autism-spectrum-disorders
Course Information & Overview of ASD
This module provides an overview of the course and of Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD. You will learn the definition of this spectrum disorder (and why it's considered a spectrum of disorders), how autism is diagnosed, the core areas of impairment, the process for qualifying for special services, and the statistics that show that the diagnosis rate of autism spectrum disorders is increasing.
Developmental Differences in Autism Across the Lifespan
This module discusses how autism spectrum disorders affect development at different life stages. The importance of early identification is discussed, as are common indicators of autism in infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and K-12 students. Finally, you will learn about the challenges individuals with autism spectrum disorders face as they approach adulthood, as well as tips to help smooth the transition.
Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses
In this module, you will learn about strengths and weaknesses amongst people on the autism spectrum, especially as these pertain to learning differences. Theory of Mind (ToM) is also discussed and how the lack of or delays in ToM can lead to various social and relationship challenges for people on the autism spectrum.
Understanding Sensory Regulation Differences
In this module, we focus on sensory issues that people on the autism spectrum experience. Particularly, you will learn about hyper and hypo reactivity, body awareness and balance issues, and how these sensory difficulties can sometimes manifest themselves into strong emotional and behavioral reactions, including the importance of prevention and teaching self-advocacy and coping strategies.
Using Evidence-based Practices
In this final module, you will learn about several evidenced-based practices (EBP), including the Early Start Denver Model, developed by Dr. Sally Rogers of the UC Davis MIND Institute, two national resources that track evidence-based interventions for ASDs, and the importance of systems level support and fidelity of use of recognized EBPs.