Online Courses

Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Upcoming offerings:

Please check back for future offerings.

Course facilitator:
Taryn Goodwin
Office phone:

Course Overview

Students with ASD often present behaviors that interfere with learning in the educational setting. It is necessary to understand how and why interfering behaviors develop and to have knowledge of evidence based interventions designed to support positive behavior change. This course is designed to provide educators and family members with skills and knowledge needed to support students with ASD in the educational setting. The course will provide participants with information regarding the impact core deficits of ASD have on the person and how they may lead to interfering behavior. The course will help the participant understand behavior and identify how behavior develops over time and the purpose it serves for the student. Participants will next gain knowledge of how to address interfering behavior using a positive approach. The positive approach focuses on ensuring student dignity and enhancing quality of life through the development of new skills and reduction of problem behaviors. The course will include the process of conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment, developing and implementing a Behavior Intervention Plan, and strategies for intervening when interfering behavior occurs.

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. It is strongly recommended that participants have knowledge of autism spectrum disorders including the communication, social and behavioral characteristics and how these impact the person.


We recommend that participants complete the Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorders course offered by VCU-ACE prior to taking this online course. If this class has not been completed, knowledge of the primary and secondary characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is required.

Learning Objectives

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

  1. Discuss what it means to presume competence and how to demonstrate respect for individuals with ASD
  2. Describe roles and responsibilities as it relates to behavior
  3. Define interfering behavior
  4. Describe the impact of the core deficits of ASD on behavior
  5. Identify how behavior develops and why it is important to understand
  6. Describe behavioral supports that can be applied in a proactive manner in the environment
  7. Describe the functional approach to behavior
  8. Describe how to determine the function of behavior
  9. Describe the behavior chain
  10. Discuss what a Functional Behavior Assessment is and why it is used
  11. Describe the process for conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment
  12. Describe data collection types and ongoing evaluation
  13. Discuss what a behavior intervention plan is and the relationship it has to FBA
  14. Describe a systematic approach to intervention
  15. Describe antecedent based interventions
  16. Define and discuss reinforcement of behavior
  17. Describe how to determine and teach a replacement/alternative behavior
  18. Discuss how to respond when interfering behavior occurs


Module One: Understanding Interfering Behavior
Module Two: Providing Positive Behavior Supports

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

Participants can earn a Certificate of Completion once they have successfully fulfilled the course requirements.

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.