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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.

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

  • What's Included
  • 31 pages
  • Pre/post-assessments
  • Optional $20 certficate
  1. Identify characteristics of ASD and their impact on development
  2. Identify how to understand the family's perspective when they have concerns and their child is diagnosed with ASD
  3. List the current practices that have been shown to be evidence-based when working with young children with ASD

Module Authors

Maggie Gons, M.A., CCC-SLP

Maggie Gons, M.A., CCC-SLP is the Early Childhood Professional Development Manager in OCALI's Center for the Young Child. She coordinates and facilitates training opportunities for several initiatives including the Autism Diagnostic Education Program (ADEP), PLAY Project autism intervention, and Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT). Maggie has degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Cincinnati and is a graduate of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association's (ASHA) Leadership Development Program who continues clinically in private practice. Additionally, Maggie is a certified PLAY Project/Teaching PLAY autism intervention consultant and trained PLAY Project supervisor.

Module Contributors

Jody Fisher, M.Ed.

Jody Fisher, M. Ed, has enjoyed a 41-year career in the field of developmental disabilities including direct service in home, clinical, and school-based settings, as well as policy development at the local, state and national level. She has had affiliation and involvement with many professional associations and organizations serving and advocating for Ohioans with developmental disabilities. Fisher's work has included consultation with OCALI and coordination of Ohio's Interagency Work Group on Autism, partnering with individuals and families, professionals, and state and national leaders to promote services and supports that are responsive and meaningful for children and their families.

Modules on this site are always free. If you would like proof of completion, you can purchase a certificate when you have successfully completed this module. The certificate will provide contact hours for this module.

Graduate credit for courses is available through OCALI's partnership with Ashland University. Access information about course options and semester dates in the Search.

Continuing education credit from providers such as ASHA and NASW is in progress. For questions contact

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