School of Education
Addressing Autism Spectrum Disorders
Become empowered to identify and address challenging behaviors for people with autism spectrum disorders
a young boy leaning on a desk with his face tilted upward
Enroll NowSample Course
$29.996 LessonsWorkshop
Overview

Are you a parent, a friend, or a teacher of someone on the autism spectrum? If you would like to gain an overview of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and how to support people with ASD at home, at school, and in the community, taking this course will help you do that. 

In Addressing Autism Spectrum Disorders, Dr. Robin LaBarbera helps you explore the different strengths and needs of individuals on the autism spectrum, with a focus on using visual supports to develop life skills, social skills, and manage challenging behaviors. Many of the lessons also contain key information from case studies that you can apply to the varied situations you may encounter in everyday life as a parent, teacher, or friend of someone on the spectrum.

At the end of this course you will be able to:

  1. Identify the three major categories of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) characteristics.
  2. Become familiar with social skills deficits common among individuals with autism and strategies for developing social skills.
  3. Understand the visual strengths common among individuals with ASD and be equipped to develop visual supports to address challenging behaviors.

There are six lessons in this course, and each one contains the following:

  • 2-3 video teaching with Dr. LaBarbera where she unpacks the lesson topic
  • Reflection activities to help you apply the material to your specific context
  • Resources for further research and learning

This course is part of the Conversations on Special Needs Series. The other course in this series is: 

1. Addressing ADD and ADHD 

What You Earn
Instructor
Dr. Robin LaBarbera
School of Education

About the Course Author

Dr. Robin LaBarbera started her teaching career in inner city Los Angeles as a Kindergarten teacher, third and fourth grade combination class teacher and as an Educational Therapist working with children in K-5 with learning difficulties. LaBarbera has two bachelor’s degrees in business administration/marketing and criminal justice, two master’s degrees in education and special education/autism, a Ph.D. in Educational Studies, and a Doctorate in Social Work.
Dr. LaBarbera is also the founder of Peer2Peer Counseling Supports, which trains young people with lived experience of adversity (e.g., homelessness, substance abuse, foster care, physical/emotional abuse, poverty, juvenile justice, mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety, etc.) to support their peers in building lives of well-being and resilience.
Having served as professor of special education at Biola for over 13 years, Dr. LaBarbera retired in 2019 as Faculty Emerita. She has conducted numerous local and international presentations (e.g., Lebanon, Vietnam, India), and has also s published several articles and books related to the education of students with learning difficulties. In addition, Dr. LaBarbera authored the textbook, Educating students with autism spectrum disorders: Partnering with families for positive outcomes, from Sage Publications.
Dr. LaBarbera serves as an officer on two Boards of Directors: An educational program for children with learning differences in private schools, called Opportunity Schools; and she is the co-founder of a Foundation that seeks to maximize capacity in urban ministry organizations, called Kingdomworks SDG Foundation. In her free time, she is an active runner, cyclist and scuba diver with her husband.

About the School of Education

The School of Education exists to train up those who desire to make an impact as educators in classrooms, administration buildings, homeschools, the mission field and beyond. Our wide selection of rigorous, biblically centered academic offerings — ranging from undergraduate and graduate programs to teaching credentials and certificates, as well as K–12 as well as homeschool education through our Eight-Week Clinic Courses for grades 1 through 6 — makes the School of Education the premier institution for advancing your knowledge in the field of education.

Whether you’re an aspiring teacher, an experienced educator or current teacher looking to advance in your career, our unique blend of academic excellence and thoughtful mentorship will be sure to guide you to your goals. Throughout your studies, you’ll benefit from engaging with our fully doctored, full-time faculty and different learning opportunities available to you through our strong relationships in the field, making your journey at the School of Education one full of meaning, growth and impact.

Learn more about Biola University's School of Education!

Syllabus

In this lesson, we will consider how autism is...
Overview
Autism is a Spectrum
Video
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Video
Reflecting on the Categories of ASD
Reflection
What Causes Autism?
Video
Research Prompt
Misc
Lesson 1 Recommended Resources
Misc
In this lesson, we’ll discuss the major...
Overview
Communication and Social Interaction
Video
Visual Schedules
Video
Lesson 2 Reflection Prompts
Reflection
Lesson Activity
Misc
Lesson 2 Recommended Resources
Misc
In the last lesson, we mentioned the rationale...
Overview
Visual Schedules at Home
Video
Challenging Behaviors
Video
Using the Function to Address Behavior Challenges
Video
Lesson 3 Reflection and Activities
Misc
Lesson 3 Recommended Resources
Misc
In the last lesson, we talked about the...
Overview
Replacement Behaviors
Video
Challenging Behaviors and Replacements
Video
Replacement Behavior Activity
Reflection
Lesson 4 Recommended Resources
Misc
A child with ASD might have difficulty forming...
Overview
Difficulties with Social Interactions
Video
Difficulties with Social Interaction: Case Study
Video
Social Stories
Video
Social Stories Reflection
Reflection
Lesson 5 Recommended Resources
Misc
In this lesson, we'll talk about the importance...
Overview
Advocacy
Video
Flourishing Part 1: Emotion Regulation
Video
Flourishing Part 2: Well-being and Resilience
Video
Flourishing Reflection Assignment
Reflection
Lesson 6 Recommended Resources
Misc
Related Biola University Programs
Misc
Course Evaluation
Misc

Course FAQ

Each lesson is designed to take approximately 2-4 hours, depending on how deeply you engage the assignments. Since this is a self-paced course, the time it will take you to complete it will depend on the speed with which you want to progress through the course.

No. The course contains everything you need to successfully complete it. There are resources recommended at the end of each lesson that you're free to purchase if you wish to pursue further study on the course topics.

Since this course is designed as a completely self-paced experience, you will not have any interaction with the professor during the course.