PARAPro Course

Online Course for Paraprofessionals:

Autism Spectrum Disorder for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports

Teacher laughing with students

This course is estimated to require 6 contact hours to complete.

Course Information Contact:

Technical Support:  Lucian Friel, 804-827-1434 or email:


Teacher laughing with students 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."


  • 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.


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 throughout the course. Participants must complete this quiz with a score of 80% or greater in order to attain a certificate of competition.


The following is a list of each of the 6 Course Modules along with corresponding learning objectives that align with HB 325 Training Standards for Paraprofessionals Assigned to Work with a Teacher Who Has Primary Oversight of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Module Outline & Learning Objectives (PDF)

  • 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


To complete this course, participants will need access to a computer with (preferably high-speed) internet access, an internet browser, and a sound card with speakers in order to listen to the lectures (full text transcripts are provided). Participants will be able to access the course materials on a continual basis (any day, any time).



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 record keeping, 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 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.

Virginia Department of Education LogoThis 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.