Psychology (PSYC) 478

Autism Spectrum Disorder (Revision 1)

PSYC 478

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Precluded: PSYC 478 is a cross-listed course—a course available in two different disciplines—with EDPY 478. PSYC 478 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for EDPY 478.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Psychology Homepage

PSYC 478 is not available for challenge.

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Psychology 478: Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a three-credit, senior-level course that is designed to develop familiarity with a variety of topics related to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Issues related to etiology, diagnosis, characteristics of autism, and treatment models are presented. 

Autism is an early onset neurodevelopmental disorder. A person receives a diagnosis of ASD when they have a combination of atypical responses in categories relating to social interaction, communication, and restrictive and repetitive behaviours. Many people on the autism spectrum face significant challenges with daily living, relationship building and maintenance, emotion awareness and regulation, and both verbal and nonverbal communication. Many also have problems with motor coordination and fine motor control to produce speech or certain sequences of movements. Other areas of difficulty may include problems with sensory regulation, sleep, attention, and executive function abilities.

The overall goal of this course is to provide you with an understanding of ASD and best practices in treatment. Given that the prevalence of ASD is 1 in 50 children (if it is broadly defined), professionals and para-professionals in a variety of fields will encounter children, youth, and adults with ASD. Having this foundational understanding of ASD will enhance your skills and build capacity for successful interactions and outcomes.


PSYC 478 comprises fourteen units:

  • Unit 1 – Overview
  • Unit 2 – Evidence-Based Practices
  • Unit 3 – Working with Families
  • Unit 4 – Environmental Measures
  • Unit 5 – Applied Behaviour Analysis
  • Unit 6 – Communication Skills
  • Unit 7 – Social Skills
  • Unit 8 – Daily Living Skills
  • Unit 9 – Academic Skills
  • Unit 10 – Play-Focused Interventions
  • Unit 11 – Technology
  • Unit 12 – Motor Considerations
  • Unit 13 – Sexuality
  • Unit 14 – Transitions


To receive credit for PSYC 478, you must achieve an overall course grade of at least D (50 percent). In addition, all course assignments must be completed to pass the course. The weighting of assignments is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Learning Plan Exercise 10%
Case Study 35%
Online Posting Board 25%
Reflection Paper 30%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Boutot, A. E. (2017). Autism Spectrum Disorders: Foundations, characteristics, and effective strategies (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Other Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, October 31, 2017

Updated April 03 2019 by Student & Academic Services