Autism Spectrum Disorder for Paraprofessionals:
Providing Effective Instruction and Supports

Autism Spectrum Disorder for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports

The course is provided as a collaboration between the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Education and the Virginia Department of Education. Due to the increasing population of students with autism spectrum disorder throughout Virginia, the role of the paraprofessional supporting students with autism spectrum disorder is ever-changing, thus the need for increased training and supports for paraprofessionals who support these students in Virginia public schools. This course was designed in response to the need for comprehensive training for individuals working with students with ASD in Virginia as well as House Bill 325 and the Virginia Department of Education's (VDOE) Training Standards for Paraprofessionals Assigned to Work with a Teacher Who Has Primary Oversight of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Specifically, HB 325 states that "paraprofessionals who are assigned to work with a teacher who has primary oversight of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) receive training in student behavioral management within 60 days of assignment to such responsibility."

Who Should Take This Course

  • This course is a requirement of HB 325 and should be taken by paraprofessionals that work under a supervisory teacher who works directly with students with autism within 60 days of their hire date.
  • This course is for Paraprofessionals who provide support to many students or just one student and who serve in a variety of roles across environments across the school day from self-contained classrooms, resources rooms and general education settings.
  • Additionally, this course may be taken by any individual in the school division who would like to know more about how to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder to be successful in the school setting.

Course Structure

This training is a self-paced online course. It will take approximately 6 hours to complete at your own speed. You are to begin with the first module and work through each one sequentially until all modules are completed. Each module will contain short videos presented by a VCU-ACE staff member. Interactive knowledge checks are provided in each module to assist participants in engaging in course materials and applying the information learned.

A short quiz will be provided at the end of the course to assess comprehension of the information presented. Students must complete this quiz with a score of 80% or greater to earn a certificate of competition.

Course Modules

  • Module 1: General Autism Competencies
  • Module 2: Comprehensive Instructional Programming
  • Module 3: Environmental Structure and Visual Supports
  • Module 4: Communication and Social Skills
  • Module 5: Behavior
  • Module 6: Promoting Independence and Self-Determination

These 6 course modules with their corresponding learning objectives were developed to align with HB 325 Training Standards for Paraprofessionals Assigned to Work with a Teacher Who Has Primary Oversight of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (PDF) . For details on the modules' learning objectives, please see the Module Outline & Learning Objectives document (PDF).

Accessing the Course

To complete this course, students will need access to a computer with (preferably high-speed) internet access, a web browser, and a sound card with speakers in order to listen to the lectures (full text transcripts are provided). Students will be able to access the course materials at their convenience; the course web site is always available and there are no set times during which students must be online.

Completion Outcomes

Certificate of Completion: Certificates will be available to participants upon course completion. Many school divisions use the VCU-ACE ASD for Paraprofessionals online course to meet the requirements of HB 325, which requires training for paraprofessionals. You may be asked to provide a copy of your certificate to the school division where you are employed. It is the participant's responsibility to provide the course certificate as proof of completion to the appropriate school division personnel (HR Manager, School Administrator, etc.). Participants are also advised to keep a copy of their certificate of completion for documentation in their own personal records.

In addition, a school division may ask VCU-ACE for the names of participants who have registered for or completed the course. To assist school divisions in accurate recordkeeping, VCU-ACE will provide the names of participants who registered and/or completed the course to their school divisions if requested.

Recertification / Licensure: 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. 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 eacher can earn for participating in the course.

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

This online course is from Virginia Commonwealth University's Autism Center for Education (VCU-ACE), which is funded by the Virginia Department of Education, contract #881-APE61172-H027A190107. Virginia Commonwealth University is an equal opportunity / affirmative action institution providing access to education and employment without regard to age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, veteran's status, political affiliation, or disability. If special accommodations are needed, please contact Jennifer McDonough at (804) 828-1851 VOICE or (804) 828-2494 TTY.

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