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Asperger's Syndrome and High Functioning Autism - Program Courses

Schedule

Tentative schedule of courses

Course title (All courses are 3 credits)
*Prerequisite: must be completed prior to starting the other courses 
Summer Fall Winter Spring Summer
*A Different Way of Thinking: Introduction to Understanding Students with Asperger’s Syndrome and Related Disorders X   X
Making the Connection: Educational Strategies for Students with Social Communication Challenges   X    
Meeting the Challenge of Transition for Learners with Asperger's Syndrome   X  
Circles of Support: A Collaborative Approach to Meet the Needs of Students with AS/HFA   X

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Course descriptions

SPED 410/510 A Different Way of Thinking: Introduction to Understanding Students with Asperger’s Syndrome and Related Disorders (3 credits)
Identify the major characteristics that define Asperger’s syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism (HFA), the prevalence of these disabilities, and the differences (characteristics, educational needs) between individuals with AS/HFA and those with classic autism. Learn the process of diagnosis of AS/HFA and the criteria for eligibility for special education and related services in school programs, the characteristics of social understanding and interaction, language development, and social communication that may be affected by AS/HFA. Understand the characteristics of cognitive ability and processing style, motor abilities, and other areas of concern that may be related to AS/HFA (e.g., sensory issues, adaptive behavior, organizational and time management skills, and social-emotional difficulties).

Focus on the impact individuals with AS/HFA may have within the family and the critical issues of importance to the individual with AS/HFA and his/her family at each stage of the lifespan (i.e., early childhood, later childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, throughout adult life), including the ways that AS/HFA may effect the individual’s need for accommodations in general education programs.

Understand the roles of various professionals in the treatment and education of individuals with AS/HFA (e.g., physicians, psychologists, special educators, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, general education teachers, paraprofessionals, social workers, and others) promising treatments, and the importance of a team approach to treatment and education, including family members as critical participants on a student’s educational team.

SPED 410/510 Circles of Support: A Collaborative Approach to Teaching Students with Asperger’s Syndrome and Related Disorders (3 credits)
Demonstrate processes of collaboration to support students with AS/HFA and related disorders from elementary through post-secondary grade levels. Use practical assessment strategies to identify strengths and needs in order to guide individualized intervention. Design the individualized intervention and monitor its effectiveness within a variety of settings (school, home, and community).

Develop plans and apply environmental support and strategies that may include accommodating sensory differences, biological needs and cognitive inflexibility in executive functioning; providing meaningful reinforcement; providing supportive environmental structure and visual supports; curriculum modification and design; instructional methods and appropriate task demands; and teaching skills such as social thinking, social interaction with adults and peers, self-regulation, self-advocacy, positive behavior supports, parents as team members, and transition planning.

SPED 410/510 Making the Connection: Educational Strategies for Students with Social Communication Challenges (3 credits)
Learn how to address the need for effective social-skills assessment and programming for school-age children with AS/HFA by reviewing the specific dimensions characterizing ASD, learning the three key psychological theories associated with ASD, and integrating these concepts to assess and implement a comprehensive school-based social skills program.

Identify characteristics specific to ASD and learn how these may impact an individual’s social performance, knowledge, and understanding, as well as the necessity to consistently evaluate and modify social skills instruction based on a child’s unique learning needs.
Implement various assessment techniques and learn about eligibility criteria for special education and related services in school programs and how this model aligns, as well as differs, from the medical model/diagnostic criteria. 

Learn how to modify and evaluate social-skills programming based on the child’s individual learning profile, progress, and social performance through implementation of a five-step model for social skills programming. Review and engage in discussion related to the following programming steps: (1) assess social functioning; (2) distinguish between skill acquisition and performance deficits, (3) select intervention strategies, (4) implement intervention, (5) evaluate and monitor performance.

SPED 410/510 Meeting the Challenge of Transition for Learners with Asperger's Syndrome
This course focuses on the challenges faced by students with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism (HFA) during times of transition. Through online discussions, assigned readings of professional literature, case studies, videos, interviews, and research articles, PSU students gain an understanding of the critical life issues during transitions and are able to identify the needs of a student at each grade level/age into adulthood and beyond. Topics covered include IDEA requirements for transition, strategies for transition planning across grade levels into adulthood and beyond, teaching self-advocacy skills, modified/alternative diplomas, family perspectives, legal aspects to consider, and collaboration of services.