How to Reach and Teach Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Grades PreK-5) / Semester Course

PDI Course Number: 125BXX / UCSD Course Number: EDUC42242


Course Description

Are you finding it increasingly difficult to meet the needs of your diverse learners, especially those with autism spectrum disorder? As more students transition into the least restrictive environment, teachers are finding themselves at a loss concerning how best to reach this unique population in an inclusive setting. This online course is specifically geared toward PreK-5 teachers who want to explore a wide variety of strategies so that they are better positioned to meet the needs of students with autism in the least restrictive environment. Teachers will take a deep dive into autism spectrum disorder, otherwise known as ASD. As they progress through the course, teachers will learn how to adapt their instruction so that it can be differentiated to meet students with ASD at their level. Teachers will learn about the social aspects of ASD and how it can lead to anxiety, especially if there is a comorbid diagnosis. Teachers will learn strategies to help students with ASD remain structured. The basics of behavior are discussed, and teachers will learn about the various functions of behavior and the primary role that reinforcement plays in behavior intervention plans. Social skills deficits are discussed in detail, as this is one of the cornerstone characteristics of students with ASD. Teachers will learn a variety of strategies for helping students with ASD cope academically, behaviorally, socially, and emotionally in the least restrictive environment. Teachers will learn the importance of collaboration, and they will take a deep dive into the various co-teaching models. By the end of this course, teachers will have gained valuable insight into autism spectrum disorder, and they will feel much more capable of meeting the academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of this diverse population. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units (50 hours of training) from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"This course was an excellent resource for me as I continue to try to improve my teaching skills, especially with students who have ASD." - Nicole Morman

Enrollment Options

Course Only

Only $170 with the discount

Course with Credit from UCSD Extension

Only $366 with the discount

This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units or 5 quarter units of graduate-level credit from UC San Diego.

Fall semester online courses must be completed by December 16th.


Print our customized course approval form to share with your school district.


Required Resource Book

This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List



UCSD Course Number: EDUC42242
Unit One
  • Special Education: Then and Now
  • Breaking Down an IEP
  • The Importance of a Collaborative Community
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography/Write an article reflection
Unit Two
  • Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Existing on the Spectrum
  • Comorbidity and Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Assignment #2: Review ASD student scenarios
Unit Three
  • The Social Aspects of ASD
  • Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Learning How to Engage with Peers
  • Assignment #3: Create a social story
Unit Four
  • How ASD Affects Academic Learning
  • Differentiating Instruction
  • The Importance of Routines
  • Assignment #4: Create two routine checklists
Unit Five
  • Understanding the Basics of Behavior
  • The Role of Reinforcement in Behavior Intervention Plans
  • The Importance of Self-Regulation
  • Assignment #5: Develop a plan to help a fictitious student
Unit Six
  • Teacher Collaboration and the Co-Taught Classroom
  • Partnering with Parents
  • Embracing the Entire School Community
  • Assignment #6: Respond to ASD student scenarios
  • Assignment #7: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)


Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

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