ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers SPN101: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users April 1-30, 2018.

Autism spectrum disorders are a group of disorders that can affect a child’s ability to learn, socialize, and communicate with those around him. There are several disorders that fall into this general disability category. These disorders include:

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Rett’s syndrome
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

The word spectrum, meaning range or variety, is significant to a clear understanding of this group of disorders. A child with an autism spectrum disorder may display characteristics that range in severity from mild to severe. In certain ways, every case is unique.  For example, some children diagnosed with autism are able to use verbal language to communicate their needs. Other children are nonverbal, but communicate through technology or picture communication systems. In the most extreme cases, some children diagnosed with autism are nonverbal and unable to communicate their needs through any means other than their behavior.  In order to be diagnosed with autism, a child must display specific characteristics with the onset prior to the age of three.

The goal of this course is introduce participants to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and the characteristics of children who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Participants will also be introduced to several students with autism spectrum disorders and many of the classroom strategies that support these students.  When child care providers work together with parents, therapists, and other professionals to create a plan of action, it is quite realistic to expect that the child with autism will be successful in an inclusive environment.  Open communication and creating a strong support system are the first steps to take when creating the consistency necessary for this success.

“A rise in the diagnosis rate of autism spectrum disorders, combined with the fact that such disorders develop in early childhood, makes this topic both relevant and vital for child care professionals,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “With a clearer understanding of autism spectrum disorders, providers will be better prepared to work with children of all ability levels.”

 SPN101: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders is a one-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.1 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

 ChildCare Education Institute, LLC

ChildCare Education Institute® provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

April 2018 Newsletter – Director’s Corner: Helping Teachers Understand and Implement UDL

Whether you currently have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or any other disability, enrolled in your program, UDL is designed to help all learners succeed.  Some of the language included in UDL is geared more toward elementary, middle, and high school learners.  However, many of the recommendations contained in UDL align with the principles of Developmentally Appropriate Practice, with which early learning professionals should already be familiar.

It is recommended that educators become familiar with both UDL and DAP, in order to create appropriate learning environments for all children.

Access the UDL Guidelines at  Spend time familiarizing yourself with the different sections in the easy to read guide.  Once you have wrapped your mind around the recommendations, reflect on specific areas of your program in relation to the UDL guidelines.  This reflection will help you create a plan of action that will fit the unique needs of your program.

Consider the following list of recommendations for ways you can support your staff as they incorporate UDL in your program environment:

  • Introduce the UDL guidelines using a professional development community approach – create a plan to introduce one new guideline each month. Share information with teachers during a staff meeting and ask them to reflect and create a plan of action to incorporate the recommendations related to the guideline into their daily practice throughout the month. Establish a plan to check in throughout the month to support teachers and create accountability. Share successes and challenges at the next staff meeting before introducing the next guideline, or determine that more work needs to be done with the original guideline and rework the plans.
  • Assign each teaching team a different UDL guideline and ask them to create a presentation to share with the rest of the group during a staff meeting or professional development day.
  • Look for training opportunities that exist in your community. Arrange for a speaker to conduct professional development for your staff. Or look for online training options such as the special needs courses on CCEI, which contain many of the recommendations included in the UDL Guidelines.
  • Once the UDL Guidelines have been introduced, create a checklist for each area. You can start with the recommendations shared in the sections of this newsletter. Ask staff to conduct self-assessments using the checklists.  Work with each team to create a plan of action that will help them include more elements of UDL into their environments.

To view the article on Engagement – The Why of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Representation – The What of Learning , click here.

To view the article on Action and Expression – The How of Learning, click here.

Have you had success in implementing elements of UDL into your program?  Share your experience with us on Facebook here.

April 2018 Newsletter – Action and Expression: The How of Learning

According to the CAST Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:

“Learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know.”

Whether it is due to a diagnosed disability or other learning difference, children explore and demonstrate learning in many different ways. Here are a few specific recommendations that are included in UDL that can be applied to early learning environments:

  • Incorporate any adaptive equipment used by students; work with parents and therapists to become familiar with these supports
  • Allow ample time for children to complete work; some children may require extended periods of time
  • Allow children to return to their work throughout the day; use a “Save Shelf” to store ongoing work
  • Allow options for children to respond to questions by pointing or otherwise indicating their choices
  • Allow children to show what they know about concepts using preferred materials (Blocks, paint, drawings, photography, manipulatives, storytelling, dramatic play, etc.)
  • Incorporate various technology as a means for children to express their knowledge (videos, computer drawings, music producing programs, PowerPoint, graphing, storyboards, etc.)
  • Encourage children to use manipulatives to express their understanding of math concepts
  • Allow children to express their knowledge independently or within small groups
  • Provide chances for children to share what they know one-on-one with teachers, in front of small groups, or in front of the large group; not every child will perform well in each of these situations
  • Help children determine the next steps in their learning, based on their current level of knowledge/skill
  • Help children create plans for accomplishing tasks; introduce strategy and creative thinking in order to solve problems
  • Help children organize information using a variety of visual organizers
  • Ask open ended questions to promote deeper thinking about concepts and self-reflection

Adapted from: CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from

To view the article on Engagement – The Why of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Representation – The What of Learning , click here.

To view the article on Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Understand and Implement UDL, click here.

April 2018 Newsletter – Representation: The What of Learning

According to the CAST Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:

Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them.”

The fact that children take in and process information differently means that teachers must be prepared to present information in different ways for different learners. Here are a few specific recommendations that are included in UDL that can be applied to early learning environments:

  • Provide materials in different formats – large print books, audiobooks, tactile experiences, digital materials, etc.
  • Present information in graphs, charts, and illustrations for visual learners
  • Utilize American Sign Language to communicate with students and enhance language development
  • Incorporate visual/picture cues with instructions and daily routines
  • Introduce new words before using them in lessons
  • Explain unfamiliar or confusing language such as puns, jargon, and idioms
  • Connect new information with prior knowledge and experiences
  • Conduct picture walks through books prior to reading to identify main ideas of the story
  • Provide manipulatives when working on math concepts
  • Connect math concepts to everyday experiences such as meal times and how many children are in line for the playground
  • Create connections between key words and concepts for English Language Learners
  • Incorporate concepts across all learning centers, including outdoor learning
  • Teach children memory tricks
  • Provide many opportunities for exploration and repetition

Adapted from: CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from

To view the article on Engagement – The Why of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Representation – The How of Learning , click here.

To view the article on Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Understand and Implement UDL, click here.

April is World Autism Month

April is World Autism Month, which is designed to raise autism awareness and understanding around the world.  The event was created by Autism Speaks, an organization that advocates for children and adults with autism and their families.  You can learn more about the organization and their efforts by visiting

There are many ways that you can get involved with autism awareness during the month of April, as well as at other times throughout the year.   Here are a few ideas:

  • Learn the signs of autism spectrum disorder so that you can engage with families if they have questions – the Autism Speaks website provides a screening tool that you can share with families if concerns arise
  • Distribute information about autism in program newsletters and social media – a list of resources is available in the Autism Speaks Resource Library including this informative piece from the 100 Day Kit –
  • Share information about community resources with families – you can find resources specific to your state on the website
  • Participate in an Autism Speaks walk or race – you can locate an event near you one the website
  • Volunteer to support a walk or race – many volunteers are needed to make these events successful
  • Organize a fundraiser – information on the tools available to hold you own fundraiser are available on the website
  • Follow Autism Speaks on social media and share events in your area with your contacts
  • Write letters of support to state and federal lawmakers showing your support for additional funding for research and resources for individuals with autism and their families

Has your program engaged in a successful autism awareness event?  Tell us about it on our Facebook page here!