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Autism and Art

Improve your art instruction for students on the autism spectrum while creating tools to support student routines and behavior.

During this course, participants will gain a foundational understanding of students on the autism spectrum and special education law. They will apply strategies to develop authentic art experiences for students on the autism spectrum and will also address sensory needs in the art room in order to create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment for all students to thrive.

This course provides opportunities to create instructional tools to support routines and transitions and facilitate valuable practice when it comes to decoding student behavior. As a result of this course, participants will be exposed to a variety of strategies and ideas to improve their teaching practice to ensure art instruction is differentiated for students on the spectrum.

See the course syllabus and Graduate Catalog for more details.

Required Materials

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew (2012): Notbohm, ISBN-10: 1935274651 

Additional Materials

  • Computer with basic audio and video output equipment
  • Internet access (broadband recommended)
  • Basic computing skills (see AOEU’s Technology Requirements)
  • Access to AOEU’s online learning platform, Brightspace, to view the course content, submit assignments, and engage in discussion (provided)
  • A Google Drive account (not provided by AOEU)
  • Word-processing platform (Microsoft Office, Pages, Google Docs)
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 $798.00
AOEU Course Code
Morningside Course Code
EDUC500 AOE003

Course Objectives

  • Understand autism spectrum disorder and identify best practices for students in the art room.
  • Cultivate an understanding of special education law and how it can empower teaching and support artistic practice.
  • Create resources and instructional materials for immediate use in their art room.
  • Implement systems and routines to make the art room a welcoming place for students with autism.
  • Analyze the function of behavior and stimulate plans to best handle challenging behaviors.

Course Breakdown

Week 1
What is Autism?
  1. Establish baseline knowledge for teaching art to students with autism.
  2. Use foundational knowledge to set goals for the course and professional learning.
Week 2
Empower Yourself Through Special Education Law
  1. Become familiar with important language and vocabulary as we dive into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  2. Discuss the importance of understanding special education vocabulary and how this leads to empowerment in your classroom.
Week 3
Therapies and Interventions
  1. Take a closer look at various interventions and schools of thought.
  2. Conduct interviews among professionals.
Week 4
Sensory Exploration and Authentic Art Experiences
  1. Dive into strategies for planning an authentic art experience for students with autism.
  2. Develop a sensory support for your classroom.
Week 5
Transitions and Routines
  1. Learn a variety of strategies to help with transitioning, increasing predictability, and providing accommodations.
  2. Design instructional tools to support your own teaching.
Week 6
Understanding Behavior as Communication
  1. Learn strategies to help you translate and decipher the language of behavior.
  2. Examine common challenges with behavior management for students in the art room.
Week 7
What’s in Your Area?
  1. Investigate additional, outside resources that provide services for students with autism.
  2. Develop a comprehensive action plan.
Week 8
Final Reflection
  1. Reflect on your learning of autism in the art room from the beginning to the end.

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.
"I really enjoyed this class. I love that we created visuals and activities that could be immediately implemented into our classrooms. The instructor was very knowledgeable and was so thoughtful in all of her discussion responses, as well as comments on assignments. It felt like she deeply cared about our success!"
Antonette S., OH

For the official course description, see the Academic Catalog

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 1/28/2021)


Course content was relevant and current.


Instructor was knowledgeable and provided value-added contributions.


I achieved the goals I set at the beginning of the course. 

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