Autism is a developmental disability, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a student's educational performance and significantly affects developmental rates and sequences, verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction and participation. Other characteristics often associated with autism are unusual responses to sensory experiences, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements and resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines. Students with autism vary widely in their abilities and behavior. The term does not apply if a student's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has an emotional and behavioral disorder. [refer to 34 CFR 300.7(c)(1)(i)]
The term of autism may also include students who have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, Rett's Disorder, or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder provided the student's educational performance is adversely affected and the student meets the eligibility and placement requirements. Autism may exist concurrently with other areas of disability.
Resources for Professional Development for Staff
- Autism Internet Modules: Forty-five modules provide high quality online professional development on evidence-based practices for students with autism. Module formats include informational text, videos, checklists, and data collection documents. Each module takes approximately 2 hours to complete. Additional links and resources are provided for deeper understanding. Sample topics include: Comprehensive Program Planning, Differential Reinforcement, Language and Communication, Restricted Patterns of Behavior, Interests, and Activities, Self-management, Structured Teaching, and Video Modeling.
- AFIRM Modules: Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules created by the National Professional Development Center support twenty-two evidence-based practices. Module topics include: Antecedent-based Intervention, Cognitive Behavioral Intervention, Differentiated Instruction, Discrete Trial Training, Functional Behavior Assessment, Modeling, Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention, Prompting, Reinforcement, and Response Interruption and Redirection, Social Skills Training, and Visual Supports. Each module takes approximately 1.5 – 2 hours to complete. Videos and parent guides are available, as well as implementation briefs, handouts for staff, and checklists that can be used for observation and feedback.
- National Center for Professional Development in Inclusion: This website provides resources on evidence-based practices, planning and facilitation tools to support students in general ed. Module topics include Inclusive Classroom Profile, Embedded Instruction and Other Naturalistic Interventions, Universal Design for Learning, Tiered Instruction, Scaffolding, and Family Professional Collaboration. Resource formats include videos and demonstrations, books, chapters and articles, and additional websites/resources.
- Vanderbilt's EBIP for Young Children with Autism and Other Disabilities: This website introduces a selection of evidence-based practices that can be used to teach new skills to young children. Practices may be used to teach skills to children of a wide range of ages, but the content and examples will focus specifically on toddlers and preschool-age children ages 2-6. Broad topics include: Prompting Procedures, Communication Skills, Peer Interactions, Reinforcement, Teaching Children Outdoors, and Toilet Training.
- Iris Center at Peabody College at Vanderbilt: The IRIS center offers multiple in-depth modules on18 evidence-based practices and programs including: Accommodations, Assessment, Behavior and Classroom Management, Collaboration, Diversity, Juvenile Corrections, Learning Strategies, RTI/MTSS, and Secondary Transition. Resource formats include modules, case studies, activities, informational briefs, video vignettes, and web resources.
SEE-KS Video Modules - Early Childhood
SEE-KS Video Modules 1–6 provide an overview of the Social Emotional Engagement – Knowledge and Skills (SEE-KS) professional learning approach. This approach is designed to bring a positive school climate into the classroom and lesson planning. The focus is on increasing student engagement by fostering initiation, independence, and investment within instruction. Social emotional learning competencies are embedded within educational programming using current neuroscience to guide how to address these competencies in a development framework and within a Universal Design for Learning framework (UDL). These 6 modules focus on the implementation of this approach within an early childhood setting. These framework and tools, however, are applicable from early childhood through 12th grade.
Potty training a child with autism can be daunting for parents and caregivers because of the unique challenges the child faces. Traditional approaches to toilet training may not always be effective. Many parents and therapists have used principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to effectively potty train children with autism.
Georgia Autism and Behavior Support Initiative (GABSI)
The goal of GABSI is to provide FREE regional training to teachers/therapists who work with students with autism, providing them an opportunity to meet with and learn from job-alike peers. Sessions are organized by topic; information each day will cover elementary and secondary, classic and high functioning autism. Participants are welcome to attend one or both days of the Fall and Winter sessions as needed. Much will be learned from highly skilled facilitator presentations, discussions, and shared resources! Districts are responsible for travel and substitutes, as needed.
Autism Resources Webinar Series - NEW!!
Webinars highlight Georgia agencies that provide services to students with autism. Supports available for families as well as school districts are discussed. Information is shared about the agency location, population served, services provided, and contact information. Mark your calendars for the dates!
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sleep
Studies have shown upwards of 80% of young people diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder are not getting the necessary amount of sleep. Attached is a new guide that provides a comprehensive overview of ASD, how it affects sleep, expert sleep management information for people with ASD and additional beneficial resources.
Researchers have found that autism can affect the body’s ability to produce melatonin at the correct times, causing autistic children and adults to experience daytime fatigue and difficulty falling asleep at night. Sensory issues in the bedroom can also make it difficult to fall asleep and sleep well throughout the night. Sleep Help, a site devoted to spreading awareness of sleep health and wellness, has created a resource specifically for helping children and adults with autism to get better sleep. This guide covers these issues in detail and gives some simple, non-prescription options for getting a better night’s sleep.
Catatonia in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Catatonia is characterized by repetitive movements, mutism, posturing, and frantic agitation. These signs are also frequent in autism yet usually do not amount to a diagnosis of catatonia unless there is a sharp and sustained increase of these symptoms lasting days or weeks.
Going to College with Asperger's & Autism
Transitioning to college can be stressful for any young adult, but those with Asperger’s syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often face additional challenges during this time. There are people and programs in place to help, though. This guide offers information, expert advice, and resources to help make the transition to college smooth and successful for students with ASD and their families.
Career Guide for College Students with Disabilities
The Career Guide for College Students With Disabilities offers information for students with disabilities in order to help them with their career search. The guide covers everything from knowing your rights, to mental and physical disabilities as well as how to prep for a career in college so students can enter the workforce as competitive candidates for a job.
Georgia Colleges That Welcome Students with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities
Inclusive college programs across the state of Georgia offer students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) a variety of experiences and opportunities for growth as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives. Transition planning should include college and begin as early as possible during their middle and high school years. With inclusive programs, referred to as Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE), students with I/DD can now realize their dream of continuing their studies in a university or college setting with their peers.
Planning Trips for Children with Autism
This resource lists important questions to ask about the preparedness of new spaces for our children, as well as offering strategies for planning trips for children with autism. It includes a link to a trip-planning pdf document to help parents get ready for short and long trips with their children. This website also helps caregivers adapt and prepare for unexpected encounters in new places when changes are not possible.
Instructional Support for Teachers of Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities
Jessie Moreau has provided 2 webinars for students with autism and/or cognitive disabilities. The first webinar, Part 1, highlights the importance of using visual classroom schedules. Consistent use of visual schedules is an effective behavior management tool. Classroom schedules help students understand the sequence of daily events, and thus ease their transition from one activity/location to the next. Examples of individual student schedules for school and home are also provided. Depending on cognitive ability, these schedules can be tactical, visual, and/or print.
The second webinar, Part 2, illustrates ways that IEP goals and objectives can easily be embedded into daily classroom activities. A worksheet for embedding IEP skills is included.