Understanding autism introduces the autism spectrum, how it is experienced by different individuals and families, and why it is a global concern. The course explains how ideas about autism have evolved, and explores diagnosis, causes, intervention and life-span development. Widely varying perspectives on autism are illustrated and key societal and cross-cultural issues highlighted.
The course includes clear overviews of what is known and, equally important, highlights the significant gaps in our knowledge. The material includes the work of autism professionals – researchers and clinicians for instance – and also the ‘inside’ perspectives of autistic individuals and their families: all such viewpoints play a role in understanding autism. These include interviews with Arabella Carter-Johnson, the mother of Iris Grace, who very kindly allowed us to use her daughter's painting Explosions of Colour as our course image.
You will learn that autism is a highly diverse condition, as reflected in the concept of an autism spectrum. You will learn too, that there are some strikingly different ideas about autism, especially the extent to which it is a condition requiring treatment, an aspect of human diversity or both of these.
You can find the course here: Understanding autism.
Successfully completing the course will also earn you a free digital badge, which you can use as evidence of your learning.
This OpenLearn science course was produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education, the educational arm of The Exilarch's Foundation.