Just the Basics: Educating Young Children with ASD in Early Care and Education

Upcoming Offerings:

There are currently no sections of this course available for registration. Please check back for future offerings.


This training is a facilitated online course. The course is provided as a collaboration between the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence and the Virginia Department of Education.

Course Overview

This course is designed for early childhood care and education professionals who want to expand their knowledge of best practices for young children with ASD. Families and community members are also welcome to take this course. This course is designed to be the first step in pursuing goals towards improved practices in early care and education for young children with ASD. At the end of this Just the Basics course, you'll be prepared to create an individualized learning path that includes the next set of courses, Setting the Stage for Learning for Young Children with ASD, Instruction in Early Childhood for Young Children with ASD, and Supporting Interactions for Young Children with ASD.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is designed for any professional who supports young children with ASD in early care and educational environments. This includes early childhood educators, child care professionals, aides or instructional assistants, administrators, related service providers such as speech and language pathologists (SLPs) or Occupational Therapists (OTs), and families.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify elements of high-quality early childhood care and education programs.
  • Describe how access to high-quality programs in early childhood supports a child's development.
  • Identify inclusive practices that support access and participation for all young learners.
  • Describe research surrounding evidence-based practices for young children with ASD. Identify the primary characteristics of ASD.
  • Describe strengths associated with ASD.
  • Identify the VCU-ACE Foundational Five evidence-based practices.
  • Describe the importance of having high expectations for young children with ASD.
  • Describe challenges to engaging families raising children with ASD and different ways to support families.
  • Describe how to meet the Endrew F. Standard and give children the chance to meet challenging objectives.
  • Describe the importance of data collection in early childhood care and education.
  • Identify important elements of data collection.
  • Describe the process of critical self-analysis and meaningful reflection for addressing skills related to the environment, to instructional practices, and to supporting interactions for young children with ASD.
  • Identify steps to understanding professional strengths and needs, developing an action plan, and creating an individualized learning path for professional growth.

Organization of the Course

Please note that this online offering is NOT a self-paced course. You will have assignments and due dates that must be adhered to. The course is divided into learning modules. You will begin with the first module and work through each sequentially until all are completed.

Course Modules

Each module contains text, links, and one or more videos of an expert in ASD providing information on the module topic. Presenters include both professionals in the field as well as parents of children with ASD. The presentation may include support documents you can view or download and use. Additionally, website links may be provided so you can obtain further information.

Module Listing

Module 1: Foundations of Early Care and Education

Module 2: A Preschool for ALL

Module 3: Autism Spectrum Disorder

Module 4: Raising Expectations

Module 5: Student Goal Development

Module 6: Professional Skills Assessment Process

Module 6.1: Self-Assessment: Environment

Module 6.2: Self-Assessment: Instruction

Module 6.3: Self-Assessment: Interaction

Module 7: Creating an Individualized Learning Path

Certificate of Completion from Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence

Upon completion of the course in its entirety, you will be eligible for a Certificate of Completion. This requires you to complete each module by viewing each presentation and reading any associated documents, articles, and web pages. Once you have completed the course content, please fill out the course evaluation. Once the evaluation is completed, you will be provided with a link for a printable Certificate of Completion. The course will document 20 hours of contact hours.

Continuing Education Units

Points for educators working towards licensure renewal (recertification) may be awarded for completion of this online course. VDOE provides the following requirements regarding professional development activities: Point value: one point per clock / contact hour; must be a minimum of five hours per activity. We estimate this course to take a total of 20 contact hours to complete. Any teacher who wants to use it as a professional development activity for recertification needs prior approval from the school district. The school district will be responsible for designating the actual number of points that a teacher can earn for participating in the course.

Please note that the course / training does not meet any of the requirements for initial licensure in special education or any category of licensure endorsement.

Accessing the Course

To participate, you need a computer with (preferably high-speed) internet access, Adobe Flash Player software within your browser, and a sound card with speakers in order to listen to the lectures (full text transcripts are provided for all lectures and multimedia).

Participants will be able to access course materials on VCU's "Canvas" website. Each participant is provided the course URL, a unique username and a password on the first day of class. Please note that each participant should have his or her own email address that is not shared with other individuals.


If special accommodations are needed, please contact Vicki Brooke at (804) 828-1851 (voice) or (804) 828-2494 (TTY).