TE7046 - Understanding Autism

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What will I learn on this module?

This module aims to engage students in a critical appreciation of the complexities of autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, one of a number of early onset, overlapping lifelong disorders often with some degree of accompanying general or specific cognitive impairment.. It can have a major impact on how people learn, interact and behave There is a genetic component, as well as environmental influences.
You will analyse professional or familial practice including your own and will evaluate the effect of differing perceptions, particularly the perceptions of people with a label of autism. You will learn that autistic people (term preferred by people on the spectrum) continue to grow and develop throughout life, and education in its broadest sense is the key to helping children and adults aim for a rich and rewarding life. You will learn about and evaluate concepts used to diagnose autism spectrum disorders and their impact, including how this has changed over time. You will develop an understanding of the psychological and cognitive theories of the causes of autism, including educational, social and medical factors and their impact. You will critically explore the impact of autism on the individual and her/his family and learning environment. In the teaching group you will articulate and evaluate the application of your learning and new understanding to the context in which you work or interact with autistic people.
You will be able to disseminate your knowledge gained through enquiry to an academic and professional audience

How will I learn on this module?

A variety of teaching and learning strategies will be utilised within this module that will reflect your developmental needs. These will include: lectures, seminars, group work, directed learning, independent learning, IT in Teaching and IT in Learning
Topic overviews and key concepts will be addressed in lectures, seminars and workshops where active and collaborative learning will be promoted in order to draw on the range of experience of the group and to allow individuals to contextualise new ideas and evidence into your own practice. There are no examinations; the course is assessed through assignments related to each of its modules. Participants are required to select a topic germane to their proposed area of study and/or their sphere of practice. The intention is that assessment will be both summative and diagnostic. It should provide a record of your learning achievements and indicate ways in which future development might be enhanced.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support will include personal and email access to tutor throughout the semester and individual feedback on first draft as requested. Individual written feedback on assignment.
Small group seminars and tutorials. You will be encouraged to have contact with fellow students outside university hours.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• You will systematically identify, reflect upon and critically analyse key issues related to autism spectrum disorders and their implications, including the basis for approaches to its management,
• You will analyse the contribution of current government policy to continued development of your practice in your setting, region and beyond;

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• You will develop your skills in recognising the differences shown by autistic people and evaluate critically the variety of hypotheses for the cause and expression of autism to distinguish it from those of other disorders.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• You will evaluate the impact of autism on the person, the family and educational and social settings, including issues relating to labelling, stigma and social inclusion.

How will I be assessed?

The final module assessment (100%) will consist of a reflective case study bringing together your learning about autism in this module.

Your assignment will be written as an analytical commentary to demonstrate enhanced development of knowledge, as reflection on your practice, and therefore, your own development of learning about autism.

The reflection is personal to your own learning, and the reflective diary will help you track your learning and how you will put this learning into practice.

This assignment provides opportunities for study in depth, for the exploration of underlying cause and meaning and for the evaluation of the impact of disability. You will be required to relate your findings to research, theory, government papers and your own work/experience.

Written feedback will be provided.


Students undertaking this module will normally have experience of working with children or adults with autism spectrum disorder in educational, health or family settings.


Autism-analysing issues in Teaching and Learning TE0783
Autism-social behaviour and promoting learning TEO784

Module abstract

Autism is a term used since the 1940s to describe a different developmental pattern that emerges in early childhood but persists into adult life. It can have a major impact on how people learn, interact and behave. This module sims to explore critically your understanding of the nature of autism spectrum disorders. Consideration will be given to the implications of autism for families and in the professional context so that participants will begin to interrogate professional or familial practice, their own and that of others. Autism is a lifelong condition as it is neurodevelopmental disorder. However, people with autism continue to grow and develop throughout life and education, in its broadest sense, is the key to helping and adults with autism aim for their full potential.

Assessment for this module requires participants to undertake a reflective study of a social or educational context or of a person with autism. This provides opportunities for study in depth, for the exploration of underlying cause and meaning and for the evaluation of the impact of disability. Consideration will be given to the political, ethical and professional contexts of enquiry.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 3 years part-time
1 other options available

Department Social Work, Education & Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus

City Newcastle

Start September 2019

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