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Course Overview

Assessment and Characteristics of ASD

January 8, 2024 - May 4, 2024

Gain an understanding of the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as they relate to language/communication, sensory, motor, social skills, cognition, patterns of behavior, etc. Additionally, learn about girls on the autism spectrum.

  • Registration Instructions
  • Course registration is a two-step process: 1) Register on AIM and 2) Register and pay on Ashland University's system. Once you have completed this two-step process, this course will be available to you on AIM at the start of the semester, January 8, 2024.

    If you have questions about this course or the registration process, please contact the course instructor, Amy Bixler-Coffin at
  • Registration Details
  • Course registration open December 18, 2023 - April 5, 2024
  • 1-Credit course costs $225 paid to Ashland University
Course Modules

Assessment for Identification

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 hour

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex condition. It is called a spectrum for a reason. It presents in many ways and has a pervasive impact on the individual. Because autism is so complex, autism assessment requires well-trained, knowledgeable, and experienced professionals. The process of an autism assessment can be challenging for the family or the individual him or herself. This module provides the answers to commonly asked questions about the autism assessment process.    

Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Guide for Early Interventionists (Formerly ASD-4-EI)

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

Decades of rigorous research show that children's earliest experiences play a critical role in brain development and life-long outcomes. Starting at birth, children develop brain connections through their everyday experiences. These connections are built through positive interactions with parents and caregivers and by using their senses to interact with the world. Brain connections enable us to move, think, and communicate. That is why the amount of quality care, stimulation, and interaction children receive in their early years is so important. Because the first three years are a critical time, it is important to act early when concerns are raised about a child's development. And when the concerns raised are related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) there are many important things you need to know as an early intervention (EI) professional. Let's begin your journey to a better understanding of ASD, and what will be helpful to you as an early intervention professional to feel equipped and confident to provide the highest quality of service, care, and support.

Cognitive Differences

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 1/2 hours

Most individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have some unevenness in cognitive abilities - some cognitive area in which skills have not developed to the expected level, contrasted with other areas of cognitive functioning that are at or above age level. Indeed, atypical cognitive processing often underlies the challenges experienced by individuals on the spectrum. This module will describe these cognitive differences and discuss their impact on behavior and learning.

Emotional Vulnerability

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 hour

This module will provide information on the characteristics of ASD with regard to emotional vulnerability.

Girls on the Autism Spectrum

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 hour

Based on current data, autism is approximately four times more common in boys than in girls; however, many experts believe that more accurate identification of girls and women will result in a 2 to 1 ratio. In order to make sure that girls and women who have autism spectrum disorder are recognized, a different approach to identification is needed. Girls and women often face different challenges from those faced by their male counterparts; therefore, different support services are needed in order to address the specific needs of girls on the spectrum. This module focuses on how autism presents in girls and women and on providing strategies based on their specific needs.

Language and Communication

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

Autism is a complex spectrum of disorders characterized by:

(1) differences in the development of social interaction and communication skills, and

(2) atypical patterns of restricted, repetitive behaviors and interests.

Autism looks very different in each individual with the diagnosis. Some individuals communicate in atypical ways, while others use limited ways to communicate basic needs. Impairments in the development of social and communication skills profoundly impact every aspect of an individual's ability to learn and function. Our understanding of the social and communication impairments is essential to learning how to help and teach individuals with autism.

Motor Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

Research suggests that between 50-100% of persons on the autism spectrum have motor skill deficits that impact functional skills and abilities throughout the lifespan. In this module, you will learn about the body systems, patterns, and milestones that are associated with typical motor skill development. You will also learn about some of the issues that people with autism may have regarding large and small motor skill deficits, motor planning skill deficits, visual motor and oral motor skills deficits, and how these deficits may impact both learning and function. 

Overview of Social Skills and Intervention Strategies

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 1/2 hours

Difficulties with social skills and developing social relationships is a key diagnostic characteristic of autism spectrum disorders, and is often an enduring and pervasive issue throughout the life of a person on the autism spectrum. Previous research has demonstrated a clear link between social skill deficits and numerous negative developmental outcomes. The development of effective social interaction skills is critical to successful social, emotional, language, and cognitive development, yet research on social skills programming has produced conflicting results related to the effectiveness of many social skill interventions. The purpose of this module is to provide an overview of the common social skill difficulties exhibited by individuals on the autism spectrum and to provide a summary of effective social skill intervention strategies to promote skill acquisition and enhance the performance of existing social skills. 

Restricted Patterns of Behavior, Interests, and Activities

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

One of the primary characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is restricted and repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities. Individuals on the spectrum may display this characteristic through behaviors related to their interests. They may also display this characteristic through how they respond to routines, change, and transitions. In this module we will examine this characteristic through multiple case studies. We will discuss the role that this characteristic plays in helping to regulate emotions and decrease stress as well as providing necessary predictability for people on the spectrum. Strategies for incorporating strong interests and the need for routine into programming and support will be introduced. 

Sensory Differences

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 hour

In this module, you will learn about the eight senses and how our bodies use the information gathered by these senses to participate in daily activities. The module will also focus on the sensory differences that are often experienced by people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and explore how the sensory differences may impact their day-to-day behavior and function.

Assessment and Characteristics of ASD Course Post-Assessment

Post-assessment for Assessment and Characteristics of ASD course.