Course Syllabus

Reframing Autism: perspectives and strategies for supporting neurodivergent students.

Facilitator: Chris Wenz
Skype: wenzlunch
Phone: 802-387-6888

NOTE: Canvas marks the syllabus page with the word "course." This isn't a course, and so what follows isn't really a syllabus either!

Goal and Objectives 

One thing you will likely notice in this workshop is that many of our readings and resources come from the United Kingdom. This is largely because I find that the UK (and Australia and much of Europe) are ahead of the U.S. in terms of thinking about autism from a neurodiversity perspective and developing educational and social supports for autistic people.

The Autism Education Trust (AET) is a collaboration between two UK-based autism charities: the National Autistic Society and Ambitious about Autism. AET has created two remarkable documents:

We will be engaging with the Competency Framework in Module 1. One of its intended uses is as a self-assessment for all professionals working  with children ages 5-16. However, the competencies it identifies are applicable far beyond this age-range.

We clearly can not address all of the competencies in this workshop. However, our overarching goal is to progress in our development of these competencies. I also hope that this workshop becomes a springboard for continued learning and development for us all.


To be more specific, there are 5 objectives of this workshop. I will put these objectives in the terms of the AET competencies:

By the end of this workshop we will have further developed in the following areas:

Area # Competency
Individual Pupil CC-8 Broaden our perspective on autism by reading or listening to accounts from people on the [autistic]  spectrum and parents or other family members.
Individual Pupil CC-1 Identify the key strengths and challenges faced by [autistic] pupils in the areas of communication, social interaction, information processing, interests and sensory processing, and know how these can affect pupil's actions and learning.
Building Relationships CC-1 Understand the importance of listening to the voice of the [autistic] pupil and identify strategies to ensure that communications are not just used to inform and instruct pupils, but also offer the opportunity for pupils to express their views.
Curriculum and Learning CC-6 Identify opportunities for [autistic] pupils to practice and use their knowledge and skills across situations and people.
Enabling Environments

Consider existing environments using a "sensory audit" and know how to enable modifications that are conducive to the well-being and learning of [autistic] pupils.

(Also see CC-4 in this category)


Workshop Components

To achieve these objectives, there are four main components to this workshop.

(Annotated) Readings

In each module I have selected "core readings." The readings themselves are not lengthy (given the short duration of this workshop) and my hope is that everyone can at a minimum engage with the core readings. In this way, the readings provide a "baseline" so that we can have rich discussions (see below) based on a common set of knowledge.

In order to keep those core readings short and still provide opportunities to extend our knowledge, I have annotated each of the core readings with notes and links. I provide these annotated readings in two formats: PDF and HTML. I've created these annotated versions using the original source material and solely for the educational purposes of this workshop  -- I ask that you please NOT share my re-formatted versions with others. Each annotated reading includes a link to the original source if you wish to share the readings with your colleagues or friends.

Discussion Boards

For each module, we will have an "asynchronous" discussion. I will provide prompts for each of these discussions, but you should ALWAYS feel free to post whatever you feel is most relevant and important to you about the source material.

In the timeline below, I have provided suggested dates for posting to discussion boards. 

Video conferences

At least twice during the workshop we will schedule a video conference. These conferences enable us to have a more free-flowing conversation. 

I will use the information you provide to me in the Scheduling Poll, to find times that work best for the maximum number of us. If you are unable to join us during the scheduled conferences, you can access a recording of the conference

"Case" Exercise

The case exercise will be an opportunity to apply workshop material to the specific context in which you work. There is a task related to the case exercise in each module:

You access descriptions of each by following the links above, or by clicking the "Assignments" tab on the left menu. I will be happy to provide feedback and the page for each task allows you to upload your work. I do ask that you upload documents on or before the dates listed in the timeline -- otherwise, I can not guarantee I will get to your work.


It's important to me that this workshop fits into everyone's busy schedules, and the online format allows for each of you to move through the course materials at your own pace. At the same time, the quality of this learning experience will also depend on us being relatively "in sync" when we post to discussion and come together for our video conferences. So, the table below should be viewed as an ideal timeline for how we progress through the workshop.

Download a calendar view of the workshop schedule (PDF)

Module Task Complete By...
0 Introduce yourself: Meet and Greet Discussion Mar 4
0 Complete Video Conference Schedule Poll Mar 4
Complete Module 1 Core Readings Mar 11
Contribute to Module 1 Discussion Mar 11
Participate in Video Conference 1 date tbd
Upload 1.3 -- Environmental Analysis for Feedback Mar 13
Participate in Video Conference 2 date tbd
Complete Module 2 Core Readings Apr 3

Contribute to Module 2 Discussion

Apr 3
Upload 2.3 -- Differences in Environmental Context for Feedback Apr 4
Complete Module 3 Core Readings Apr 9
Contribute to Module 3 Discussion Apr 11
Upload 3.3 -- Specific Modifications and Accommodations for Feedback Apr 11


Course Summary:

Date Details Due