Catalog > Autism: Nature and Needs

Autism: Nature and Needs


Develop a working knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with emphasis on a historical perspective, the impact of the disability, environmental impact, planning, goal setting, and strategies for working with individuals with ASD. 

This is recommended as the first course in the Autism series.

Learning Objectives

Chapter One: Identifying an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Learners will

  • explore the history of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) as a disability area,
  • identify Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and discuss sub-types as “subthreshold” autism,
  • recognize state and federal educational eligibility criteria vs. DSM-V criteria,
  • develop an awareness of current beliefs as to the etiology and prevalence of ASD, and
  • recognize the triad of ASD and the impact of the disability.

Chapter Two: Understanding the Nature of Autism

Learners will

  • explore the areas of concern that impact students diagnosed with ASD,
  • identify the impact of ASD on learning and acquiring new skills, and
  • recognize strategies for managing impacted areas of concern for students with ASD.

Chapter Three: Assessments and the ASD Student

Learners will

  • recognize the components of the Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) as it applies to struggling students,
  • describe the evaluation process for students whose difficulties are not addressed through the MTSS process,
  • recognize assessment instruments and their uses for eligibility and/or re-evaluation for Autism Spectrum Disorder identification,
  • describe common types of informal assessments used to monitor instruction and used to write IEP goals, and
  • identify the criteria used by an IEP team to determine the appropriate state assessment (standard or alternative) and to identify the ramifications of those particular assessments.

Chapter Four: Classroom Arrangement for the ASD Student

Learners will implement classroom design to provide the optimal environmental conditions for learning to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders to include the following components:

  • physical arrangement of the classroom,
  • development and teaching of routines,
  • adult instructional roles, and
  • resources for teaching adaptive life skills.

Chapter Five: Establishing Visual Schedules and Reinforcement

Learners will develop skills which will allow them to

  • recognize the benefits of visual schedules,
  • determine the best type of visual schedule to meet individual student needs,
  • create visual schedules,
  • implement the use of visual schedules in the classroom,
  • recognize the steps in implementation of reinforcement strategies,
  • develop an awareness of resources available for assessing student preferences for reinforcers,
  • apply reinforcement principles, and
  • reflect on their classroom management system of which reinforcement is a component.

Chapter Six: Work Systems for the ASD Student

Learners will

  • recognize the common characteristics in students with ASD that result in a lack of independent organizational skills,
  • recognize the connection between the use of routines and visual schedules and work systems,
  • recognize the definition of a work system,
  • identify the 4 critical pieces of information that are provided to a student by a work system,
  • identify the elements of a work system,
  • recognize the steps involved in the implementation of a work system,
  • recognize the types of work systems,
  • identify several academic and pre-vocational tasks that are used in a work system, and
  • discuss the benefits of using a work system for ASD students and the benefits of classroom use for teachers.

Chapter 7: Using Visual Strategies to Regulate Behavior

Learners will

  • identify the function of behavior,
  • recognize basic steps in the assessment of behavior process,
  • identify visual strategies for teaching students with ASD how to make choices and requests,
  • identify visual strategies for teaching students with ASD how to appropriately reject or protest,
  • identify visual strategies for teaching students negotiating skills, and 
  • Identify visual strategies for establishing rules and guidelines.

Chapter 8: Nature and Needs: Social Learning

Learners will identify evidence-based social supports needed for social skills training for ASD students which may include

  • social narratives, such as Social Stories (™), Power Cards (™), and cartooning;
  • social scripts;
  • video modeling/cognitive picture rehearsal; and
  • peer-mediated instruction and intervention.

Chapter 9: Strategies for Including Students with Autism

Learners will

  • identify characteristics of students with ASD and their target goals for success in the general education setting,
  • recognize research-based strategies and supports for students with ASD in the general education setting,
  • develop strategies for addressing behavioral issues of students with ASD in the general education setting,
  • review the use of reinforcement for use in the general education setting with students with autism, and
  • review social skills training elements for working with ASD students in a general education setting.

Chapter 10: Coordinating the Intervention Plan

Learners will

  • consider all factors and needs present in students with autism when developing an intervention plan,
  • develop a comprehensive program plan to systematically implement the student with ASD’s intervention strategies,
  • advocate for the student with autism at school, at home, and in the community, and
  • manage student information and parent communication in an effective manner.

Documentation Methods

Participants must document their learning by completing the following summatives.

4 File Uploads - Learner demonstrates implementation of course content by submitting documentation of a specified activity.
1 Multiple Choice Exam - Learner demonstrates knowledge of content by selecting the correct answer from the choices provided.
4 Reflections - Learner synthesizes previous knowledge and course content in order to develop a narrative response.

The summatives must meet 80% of the established criteria.

Project Team

Author: Lysanne Matthews, Carra Summers

Developed by Beacon Educator staff.

Course Last Updated: 2022