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Online course

Understanding Autism

Understand more about autism, including diagnosis, the autistic spectrum and life with autism, with this online course.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Understanding Autism

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Why join the course?

First identified over 70 years ago, autism is a lifelong developmental disability affecting how a person communicates with and relates to others, and how they make sense of the world. It is a spectrum condition; all people on the spectrum share certain difficulties, but their condition will affect them in different ways.

Around 700,000 people in the UK are on the spectrum, 1 in every 100 people. There are no blood tests or brain scans that will detect autism - so what exactly are we talking about? Does autism actually exist?

Image: Connor Sparrowhawk #JusticeforLB

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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsJILL BRADSHAW: Does autism exist? My name's Jill Bradshaw and I'm a lecturer in learning disabilities at the University of Kent. I work at the Tizard Centre and we do lots of research and we have lots of programmes that are around people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including lots of work with people who are on the autism spectrum.

Skip to 0 minutes and 37 secondsTONY OSGOOD: I think this will be really interesting if you're touched by autism in all its many coloured guises. So if you're interested in humans, be that as a parent or as a sibling, as an educator or someone living your life through autism, then I think this short programme will be really, really useful. Really interesting as an introduction. Because it aims not just to present the facts of autism, but to give a little bit of an insight into the experience of autism.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsJILL BRADSHAW: Autism is a concept that we've been talking about for around 70 years or so. And currently, we think that around 1%, so one out of every 100 people will be on the autism spectrum. Damian, why do you think people should sign up for this autism course?

Skip to 1 minute and 25 secondsDAMIAN MILTON: I think this course gives a good introductory overview to the field of autism. And more importantly, hearing from people like myself the experiences of what it's like to be autistic. I'd hope people take this interest further and look at all of these ideas in more depth, as well.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 secondsGEORGINA WATTS: I think I'd like people to do this cause really just so that they learn more about autism. Because these days most people have heard of the term autism. And because of that, they've got certain ideas about what autism is. So I meet people, I'll disclose to them as autistic and they'll go-- oh, you're just like my friend's dog's cousin's neighbour who's a five-year-old autistic boy who flaps all the time-- OK, yes, I'm really just like that. And they don't get it. And they make all these assumptions based on things like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and they think that's all the autism is.

Skip to 2 minutes and 24 seconds So I'd really like most people to just know a bit more and not make so many assumptions about autism.

Skip to 2 minutes and 33 secondsJILL BRADSHAW: Whatever your interest is, you'll be really welcome to come and join us and find out where current thinking is around our big question: Does autism actually exist?

What topics will you cover?

  • What is autism… and does it exist?
  • Social communication skills
  • Sensory sensitivities and repetitive behaviours
  • Co-occurring conditions
  • Strengths and difficulties of people on the autism spectrum
  • Lived experiences of people on the autism spectrum

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explain what autism is, and evaluate whether it really exists
  • Identify social communication skills and explain what happens if they do not develop as expected
  • Summarise knowledge of sensory and repetitive behaviours, and whether such behaviours are advantages or disadvantages
  • Explain why many people on the autism spectrum have co-occurring conditions
  • Identify the origins of strengths and difficulties experienced by people on the autism spectrum
  • Explore and discuss lived experiences of people on the autism spectrum

Who is the course for?

You don’t need any prior experience or qualifications to do this course but it might be of interest to practitioners in the field of autism, healthcare workers, people on the autism spectrum, and parents or carers.

Who will you learn with?

Antony Osgood

Tony is a lecturer at the Tizard Centre, part of the University of Kent. He specialises in understanding and responding to challenging behaviour.

Fiona Gullon-Scott

I am An Associate Lecturer with the Tizard Centre and an Academic Tutor with the University of Newcastle. A Chartered Psychologist, I have specialised in autism spectrum conditions for over 22 years.

Jill Bradshaw

Dr Jill Bradshaw is a Lecturer in Learning Disability at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent. She is also a Speech and Language Therapist and has been working in this field for 25 years

Who developed the course?

The University of Kent, the UK’s European University, is one of the country’s most dynamic universities. Established in 1965, it now has 19,850 students studying at its various campuses.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For $69 you'll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

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  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Access to tests

When you upgrade you’ll have access to any tests during the course.

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  • Validate your learning
  • Ensure you have mastered the material
  • Qualify for a certificate

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to take any tests and score over 70%. You don’t get access to tests if you choose to take a course for free.

Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

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  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your LinkedIn or CV

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete, and score over 70% on any course tests.

Upgrade


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