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Education of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Assessment and Educational Intervention

This short course will help graduate students consider the significance of educational intervention as the primary effective treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders. This course will help graduate students recognize and develop a broad understanding of the unique pattern of characteristics of learning and development attributed to people with autism, while encouraging participants to consider the importance of providing young children who are on the autistic spectrum with an educational program that is responsive to each child's personal pattern of relative strengths and vulnerabilities. Graduate students will be asked to consider some of the issues raised by a variety of currently used educational interventions and methods of assessments. The "characteristics of effective interventions," as outlined by the National Research Council (2001), will be used as a guide to this exploration of interventions. There will be a primary focus on the importance of structured teaching, with specific references to the TEACCH approach, for promoting independence, improving adaptability, identifying and working from relative strengths and accepting disabilities. Students will have an opportunity to explore this methodology in some detail and to work collaboratively to create an instructional plan that demonstrates understanding of the structured teaching approach to working with children. Observation of children with autism will take place by use of videos. The use of assistive technology will be explored as a tool for supporting student learning, communication and independence. Issues concerned with cultural differences as they relate to how families respond to the needs of a child with autism will be considered.