Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorder Self-Paced

Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorder Self-Paced Online Course


This training is a self-paced online course. The course is provided as a collaboration between the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence and the Virginia Autism Council.

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).

Course Overview

Autism Spectrum Disorder is considered to be a lifelong neurological developmental disability. With the number of individuals diagnosed with ASD on the rise, there is a strong probability that you will encounter someone with ASD either in your work or personal life. This course will provide participants with an understanding of the primary characteristics of ASD, which include impairments in communication and social development and the presence of repetitive patterns of behavior as well as sensory processing issues. Secondary characteristics, including executive dysfunction, imitation, sequencing, and motor deficits as well as common co-morbid conditions will also be explored. The course will discuss the myths and facts surrounding ASD as well as the supports and services available to those with ASD and their families. The course will also provide an overview of the history, cause, and early signs of ASD as well as discuss the importance of understanding and utilizing strengths and interests. This course will also examine ASD throughout the lifespan.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is designed for general education teachers, special education teachers, related service providers, paraprofessionals, administrators, family members and other service providers who serve students with ASD in the educational setting.

Certificate of Completion

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.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to:

  1. Describe the history and causes of ASD
  2. Discuss the primary and secondary characteristics of ASD
  3. Discuss the secondary characteristics of ASD
  4. Describe the common co-morbidities
  5. Describe interests and strengths of individuals with ASD
  6. Discuss services and supports available across the lifespan
  7. Discuss what ASD looks like across the lifespan

Organization of the Course

This is a self-paced course, meaning you can complete the course at your own speed. The course is divided into learning modules. You are to begin with the first module and work through each sequentially until all are completed.


Each module contains 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.

At any time during the course, you can visit the course 'web board' and post any questions you have regarding any of the module topics.

Module Listing

  • Module 1: Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Primary Characteristics
  • Module 2: Secondary Characteristics, Co-Morbidities, and ASD across the Lifespan
  • Reference: Course Vocabulary (Word Document)

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 7contact 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.

The contents were developed under a contract from the Virginia Department of Education, contract number 881-61172-H027A100107. Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Education and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 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 Vicki Brooke at (804) 828-1851 VOICE or (804) 828-2494 TTY.