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Autism Spectrum Disorder Across the Lifespan

Course Code: DACS 3430
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Department: Disability & Community Studies
Credits: 3.0
Semester: Flexible delivery ranging over 2 to 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Online
Typically Offered: Winter
course overview

This upper-level undergraduate course explores Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) from a lifespan perspective applying behavioural, social, and cognitive theories. Topics include diagnostic characteristics and the diagnostic process in British Columbia, the etiology, history, and co-morbid conditions associated with ASD. Special emphasis will be given to evidence-based interventions and support strategies within early intervention, school, and employment settings.

Course Content

The following global ideas guide the design and delivery of this course:

  • The best place for children to thrive, grow, and learn is with a family.
  • ASD is a life-long developmental disorder.
  • Funding options are available for assessment and intervention.
  • Assessments and intervention methods are to be based on contemporary best practices.
  • Best practices are those that are (a) evidence-based, (b) individualized, (c) fit individuals’ and families’ needs, and (d) ethical.
  • The capacity of an individual with ASD is best supported through teaching language and other social skills.
  • Language and other social skills are best analyzed and taught using a functional approach.
  • Autism intervention is not static, but rather, is dynamic—a process readily apparent when examined within an historical context.

Methods of Instruction

  • Lecture
  • Guest lecture
  • Audio-visual presentations
  • Case studies
  • Small and large group work

Means of Assessment

  • Weekly reading quizzes
  • Academic research paper
  • Case studies
  • Group presentation
  • Exams

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

Describe the etiology, assessment, diagnosis, and funding for ASD within the BC context.

  • Consider the historical treatment of individuals with ASD and their families
  • Summarize the diagnostic indicators of ASD and explain developmental differences in individuals across the lifespan.
  • Explore contemporary assessment tools and funding options available to individuals diagnosed as a child or adult.

Evaluate evidence based methodologies and interventions with individuals on the autism spectrum.

  • Compare pseudo and anti-scientific models with evidence based methodologies.
  • Examine behavior, social, and cognitive theories of autisms and their impact on practice.
  • Examine behavioural outcomes associated with different intervention models.
  • Summarize significant peer-reviewed research on intervention practices.

Analyze a range of lifespan issues regarding social/emotional, communication/language, and behavioural domains.

  • Evaluate behavioral interpretations of complex social behavior impacting relationships in preschool, school, community and employment settings.
  • Review common mental and physical health conditions associated with autism, such as seizures, anxiety, and depression.
  • Examine tensions regarding autism between cure, treatment, acceptance and celebration perspectives.

course prerequisites

CFCS 1130 or equivalent




CCSD 2430

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.