The Parent Playbook


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

This course is designed to introduce families to information about Autism Spectrum Disorder, including tips specifically for caregivers, information about the DSM-5, characteristics, interventions, and recommended programs and services.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is designed for parents and caregivers who have children identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder within the past year. However, the content is applicable to any parents who are looking for strategies to support their child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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. Discuss common challenges parents face in raising a child with ASD.
  2. Identify essential supports for caregivers and families to achieve mental wellness and balance.
  3. Identify essential resources that can provide information on ASD and other available services for families.
  4. Identify essential resources that can provide financial assistance including information on Medicaid Waivers.
  5. Discuss ways of organizing important information and paperwork for your child.
  6. Discuss your strengths and your child's strengths and identify ways to capture these and share them with others.
  7. Discuss the changes in the definition of ASD and updates to the DSM-5 criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  8. Discuss the characteristics of ASD and the impact on the child and family.
  9. Describe what is meant by evidence-based practices.
  10. Describe how to provide a structured and organized home environment.
  11. Describe how to use prompting, reinforcement, task analysis, and visual supports to help your child.
  12. Discuss essential services throughout your child's lifespan including early intervention, early childhood special education, and school-based services.

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: Welcome to the Course
  • Module 2: Parent to Parent
  • Module 3: Ten Tips for Parents and Caregivers
  • Module 4: The Evolution of ASD
  • Module 5: Overview of ASD
  • Module 6: The Rule of Five
  • Module 7: The Roadmap to Independence
  • Module 8: Medicaid Waiver
  • Module 9: Next steps

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 5 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.

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.