Online Courses

Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Upcoming offerings:

Please check back for future offerings.

This course is estimated to require 20 contact hours to complete.

Course facilitator: Taryn Goodwin
Office phone: 804-827-2685

Course Overview

Autism Spectrum Disorder is considered to be a lifelong neurological developmental disability with a range of possible characteristics. With the number of individuals diagnosed with autism on the rise, there is a strong probability everyone will encounter someone with ASD either at work or daily 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. Secondary characteristics, including sensory processing differences and motor deficits will also be explored. The course will discuss the impact ASD has on the person as well as the family unit. The course will also provide an overview of learning styles, the history, cause, and early signs of ASD.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is for anyone who is interested in learning more about autism spectrum disorders, including parents, family members, educators, therapists, service providers and medical professionals.

Learning Objectives

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

  1. Describe the history and causes of ASD
  2. List the categories under the heading of ASD and describe the differences
  3. Discuss the primary and secondary characteristics of ASD
  4. Describe strengths of individuals with ASD
  5. Describe the differing ways individuals with ASD learn
  6. Discuss the impact ASD has on the person and the family
  7. Discuss what ASD looks like across the life span


Module One: Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Primary Characteristics
Module Two: Secondary Characteristics, Learning Styles and Autism Across the Lifespan

Pace of the Course

This course is an online offering through the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence. Please note that this is NOT a self-pacing course. You will have assignments and due dates that must be adhered to. The course consists of 2 modules. You will work your way through 1 module at a time completing course activities which include:

  • Recorded presentations
  • Readings
  • Video examples
  • Learning activities designed to assist participants in applying content
  • Group discussion board facilitated by a professional in ASD
  • Quiz

Course Requirements

Participants are to complete all course activities which include narrated lectures, video examples, readings, and learning activities. Participants will then complete a quiz on course content. A score of 80% or better is needed on each quiz to move to the next section. In addition to completing quizzes, the participant is also required to post on the Group Discussion Board throughout each module. The Discussion Board is an interactive class activity where the course instructor provides a guiding comment or question and participants respond.

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 5 hours of contact hours.

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. 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 re-certification needs prior approval of 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.

Continuing Education Units

Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) can be earned. We have suggested that participation requires 20 contact hours. This results in a credit of 2 CEUs.

*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 "Blackboard" 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.