Online Course for Paraprofessionals:
Autism Spectrum Disorder for Paraprofessionals:
Providing Effective Instruction and Supports
Technical Support: Andy Grizzard, (804) 827-1434 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In response to the need for comprehensive training for individuals working with students with ASD in Virginia as well as House Bill 325 and the Virginia Department of Education's (VDOE) Training Standards for Paraprofessionals Assigned to Work with a Teacher Who Has Primary Oversight of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (PDF) , VCU-ACE has developed online training opportunities for paraprofessionals. The training is provided through the use of online technology. Our online training activities offer high-quality, intensive training on aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). To participate, you need a computer with internet access (preferably high-speed), Adobe Flash Player software within your browser, and a sound card with speakers in order to listen to the lectures (full text transcripts are provided for all lectures and multimedia).
Video transcript: Plain text
Although training is an important element in learning and developing successful skills and strategies for working with individuals with ASD, it is imperative that training be followed by support, coaching, and mentoring to ensure successful implementation of skills and proficiencies. Local educational agencies are strongly encouraged to follow ACE training activities with support to assist the paraprofessional with implementation in the school setting.
Paraprofessionals have provided very positive feedback about the course. Here are just some of their comments:
- "This was so complete. I did not even feel like I was learning. I'm just so glad to have had the opportunity to take this course. It was wonderful!"
- "I enjoyed the course. The information will be invaluable with my interactions with my students."
- "I did enjoy this course. I learned a lot of new information and plan to implement a few of the strategies with the help of my supervisory teacher!"
- "I really enjoyed taking this course, it was very helpful and I enjoyed sharing this with my leading teacher. We shared many great discussions about the materials in this course. Thanks again for the opportunity to take this course."
To see more about what paraprofessionals who have taken the course think about it, please see the course feedback page.
This course is designed to provide paraprofessionals with skills and knowledge needed to support students with an ASD in the school setting. The course will provide an overview of the potential roles and responsibilities the paraprofessional may be asked to deliver. Participants will learn how to carry out their responsibilities while maintaining respect for the students and exhibiting sensitivity to beliefs, values, and cultures. Teaming and communication with professionals and parents will also be highlighted. The course will provide participants with an overview of ASD including primary and secondary characteristics. Information regarding the development and implementation of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be discussed. Participants will gain knowledge of educational modifications, accommodations and educational strategies used to support students with ASD. A focus of the course will be on understanding interfering behaviors which students with ASD may demonstrate and effectively supporting the student to reduce these behaviors and increase positive skills.
A new section of the paraprofessional course runs monthly. Participants may register on the ACE website for any of the upcoming available sections. Participants have the entire month for which they registered to complete the online course. New sections open on the first weekday of the month and close on the last weekday of the month. You can register for the course any time for available sections, but you will not be able to access the course until the section for which you registered opens. For example, you may register in April for a section that begins in July. At the beginning of July, you would receive an e-mail with information about how to access the course.
This course is designed to target paraprofessionals who provide any type of instruction or behavior support to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, the course is appropriate for any person who works in a support role within the school division or any person who interacts with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder but may not have primary responsibilities for the student. This can include but is not limited to:
- Paraprofessionals who support one particular student
- Hallway monitors
- Cafeteria monitors
- Bus drivers and assistants
- School nurses
- Resource teachers (physical education, art, music)
- Computer lab personnel
- Office personnel
and anyone else who would like to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The course consists of 5 modules. Participants are to complete each module in order until all are successfully completed. The course begins on the first weekday of each month and closes on the final weekday of the month. Participants can complete each of the 5 modules at their own pace. However, access to the modules will be staggered over the month to help ensure the participant completes the modules in the correct order and devotes the appropriate amount of time to each. Participants will be given access to the modules using the following schedule:
- Modules 1 & 2 will be open during the first week of the section.
- Modules 3 & 4 will open during the second week of the section.
- Module 5 will open during the third week.
Each module varies in length; however, we estimate it will take approximately 20 hours to complete the entire course. Participants can use the entire month to complete all 5 modules but will not be able to begin a module until access is provided.
The modules are comprised of narrated presentations with video examples. Participants are to listen to each presentation in its entirety. Each module will also consist of the following activities:
Guided learning activities
- During the presentations, participants will apply content using learning activities in the form of case studies. Additionally, other learning activities are provided which encourage participants to apply the content to students with whom they work. These activities are to be done outside of the time spent online. They are optional: however, participants are strongly encouraged to complete the activities and share them with their supervising teacher.
- Once all content is reviewed in a module, completion of a module quiz is required. A score of 80% or better is needed to move to the next module. Participants will have two attempts to complete the quiz with a score of 80% or better. Participants need to obtain a score of 80% or better on all five quizzes. If participants are unable to meet this requirement, they are welcome to complete the course without receiving a certificate of completion or discontinue the course at that time and register for the next available section of the course and would have to complete the entire course again.
Discussion board postings
- Participants are required to answer each of three discussion board questions based on a case study and respond to their assigned instructor's comments for a total of at least two posts per discussion board. Participants must answer all three of the discussion board questions and respond to their instructor in order to receive their certificate. If participants do not answer all three discussion board questions and respond to their instructor, they would have to register for another available section of the course and complete the entire course again.
|Module One:||Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder|
|Module Two:||Responsibilities of the Paraprofessional and Description of the Educational Process|
|Module Three:||Instructional Strategies and Considerations|
|Module Four:||Social and Communication Strategies|
|Module Five:||Behavioral Support|
This course meets the requirements of House Bill 325 and the Training Standards for Paraprofessionals Assigned to Work with a Teacher Who Has Primary Oversight of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (PDF) . A complete list of the competencies covered will be provided to participants.
Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to:
- Identify the core characteristics of ASD and discuss the impact of these characteristics on a student with ASD.
- Discuss what it means to "presume competence" and how to demonstrate respect for individuals with ASD
- Describe the different components of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
- Identify team members instrumental in supporting individuals with ASD and describe the importance of communication and collaboration in the educational process
- Identify strategies for effective communication with educational team members
- List ethical and legal considerations and describe the importance of confidentiality in the educational environment
- Identify legal and general responsibilities of the paraprofessional
- Describe different ways to structure the environment to support individuals with ASD
- Describe how to implement a variety of educational modifications and accommodations to provide an individualized education
- Discuss how to structure instructional activities for success
- Define prompting, shaping, chaining, task analysis, and reinforcement and describe how to teach using these strategies
- Describe how to use visual supports to promote understanding and independence and discuss how to use schedules, first-then boards, choice boards, and work systems
- Describe strategies to promote communication and socialization of students with ASD
- Define the term "behavior"
- Identify and discuss the functions of behavior
- Describe the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) and identify how it is used in the educational setting
- Describe strategies used to deescalate interfering behavior and ensure safety
Certificate of Completion from Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence
Participants can earn a Certificate of Completion if they have reviewed all content, have scored a minimum of 80% on each of the five quizzes, and answered the required discussion board questions. Certificates will be made available to participants who successfully complete the course after the completion of their section.
Many school divisions use the VCU-ACE Paraprofessional online course to meet the requirements of HB 325, which requires training for paraprofessionals. You may be asked to provide a copy of your certificate to the school division where you are employed.
In addition, a school division may ask VCU-ACE for the names and/or certificates of participants who have registered for or completed the course. To assist school divisions in accurate record keeping, VCU-ACE will provide the names and/or certificates of participants who registered and/or completed the course to their school divisions if requested.
If you, as the participant, do not wish to have your name or certificate information shared with a school division, you may opt out in writing by contacting Dr. Selena Layden at email@example.com.
Accessing the Course
To participate, you need a computer with (preferably high-speed) internet access, Adobe Flash Player software within your browser, and a sound card with speakers in order to listen to the lectures (full text transcripts are provided for all lectures and multimedia).
Participants will be able to access course materials on VCU's "Blackboard" website. Each participant is provided the course URL, a unique username, and a password on the first day of class for the section that they have registered. Please note that each participant must have his or her own email address that is not shared with other individuals.