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Autism and Art

Autism and Art

Students with autism often have a difficult time with verbal and social communication and art can serve as a vehicle for communication while supporting strengths and encouraging self-esteem. As an art teacher, you likely have many students in your classroom, and working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can bring a unique set of challenges. With few art teachers having specialized training in working with students on the spectrum, we are often left to our own intuition. All students deserve individualized education, and for our students with special needs, compliance with their needs is also the law!  

During this course, you will gain a foundational understanding concerning students on the autism spectrum and special education law. You will learn strategies for developing authentic art experiences for students will also addressing sensory needs in the art room. This course provides opportunities to create instructional tools which support routines and transitions, and facilitates valuable practice when it comes to decoding students’ behavior. As a result of this course, you will walk away with a variety of strategies and ideas to improve your practice and share amongst colleagues.

Participants will need to purchase a copy of the book Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm (2012).

ISBN-10: 1935274651

Graduate Credits
All courses will now close at 11 PM Central time on the 27th of each month. Graduate Credits 2 Graduate Credits
Price Graduate Credit $698.00
Upcoming Course Run Dates
May 1 Jun 30
Jun 1 Jul 31
Jul 1 Aug 31
Aug 1 Sep 30
AOEU Course Code
Morningside Course Code
EDUC500 AOE003

Course Outcomes

  • Understand autism spectrum disorder and identify best practices to reach and teach the students in your art room.
  • Cultivate an understanding of special education law and how it can empower your teaching and support your practice.
  • Create resources and instructional materials for immediate use in your art room.
  • Implement systems and routines to make your art room a welcoming place for students with autism.
  • Learn about the function of behavior to inform the strategies and plans to best handle challenging behaviors.
  • Identify professionals in your building and engage in proactive and positive conversations to support your students in reaching their academic and creative goals.
  • Build and reference a library of resources which address the needs of diverse learners.

Course Breakdown

Week 1
Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder
  1. Verify your own initial understandings concerning autism.
  2. Build knowledge of autism spectrum disorder and how it presents differently in students.
  3. Use foundational knowledge to set goals for the course and professional learning.
Week 2
Empower Yourself Through Special Education Law
  1. Learn about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and how it can empower you and your practice.
  2. Understand and utilize appropriate special education vocabulary while discussing students, standards, and teaching practice.
Week 3
Therapies and Interventions
  1. Take a closer look at strategies for teaching and a multitude of interventions for students with autism.
  2. Immerse yourself in the “it takes a village” mentality of special education. Interview a teacher, related services professional, or another individual with knowledge of autism to cultivate a relationship for professional learning.
Week 4
Sensory Exploration and Authentic Art Experiences
  1. Investigate sensory dysregulation and reflect upon the various sensory experiences students might experience in your art room.
  2. Develop a sensory support for your art room.
Week 5
Transitions and Routines
  1. Consider how routines and transitions impact your students on the autism spectrum.
  2. Develop a visual tailored to your art room and instruction that will support your students on the autism spectrum.
Week 6
Understanding Behavior as Communication
  1. Learn about behavior as a form of communication and develop strategies and interventions to prevent challenging behavior.
  2. Understand the four functions of behavior.
  3. Analyze behavior through case studies.
Week 7
What’s in Your Area?
  1. Look beyond the walls of your building to investigate additional outside resources such as community offerings, outreach and parent groups, and professional development opportunities.
  2. Acquire additional resources to support your students, their families, and your own professional growth.
Week 8
Autism and Art Toolkit and Reflection
  1. Reflect on your experience and set goals to continue learning and developing professionally beyond the course.
  2. Reflect on major shifts in teaching philosophy throughout the course and present learning to peers.
  3. Leave class with a comprehensive toolkit of lessons, visuals, and planning documents.

Transitions and Routines

A sample assignment from Week 5 of the class "Autism and Art"

1. Research

Do some research regarding routines and transitions and how this might impact students in the art room. Share your strategies with the group and how you envision such strategies supporting your students.

2. Discussion

How can you accommodate non-verbal or non-auditory learners in the art room? What specific behavior strategies will you implement to improve your instruction for students on the autism spectrum?

3. Practical, Hands-On Application

After discussing how people with autism benefit from visuals and routines, identify a particular technique, process, or transition that may be challenging. Create a visual that will support your students with autism. Choose from creating a social story, video modeling, a visual task menu, or a first/then board.
Donna W.
"This class provided me with the most insightful information about my students with autism spectrum disorder. No PD has even come close to what this class provided and I've sat through a lot of PD classes in 28 years!"
Kathryn H.
"This is a fabulous way to earn credit toward renewing my license while learning something actually worthwhile and useful."

What do past course participants think?

Hundreds of art teachers have taken the course “Autism and Art”. Here’s what they actually think — without cherry-picking.
(12 month rolling average from all post-course survey respondents – Updated 2/27/2020)







Let's Get Started

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