WK6 LA3 Draft Online Design Plan

Course Title: Enhancing Emergency Care for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)


Course Overview

Efforts to recognize and manage medical emergencies in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) require timely and accurate diagnosis, as well as tailored communication and support from healthcare professionals. To ensure effective emergency care for individuals with ASD, healthcare professionals must gain a thorough understanding of the communication and sensory differences associated with ASD and adapt their approach to provide equitable and inclusive services. By doing so, misunderstandings and behavioral crises can be prevented, and patient satisfaction and outcomes can be improved. It is essential for healthcare professionals to work together to promote awareness of ASD and its implications for emergency care to prioritize effective communication, empathy, and responsiveness to the unique needs of each individual.


This course is designed to equip healthcare professionals in emergency departments with the essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to provide effective and compassionate care to individuals with ASD during emergency visits. It integrates theoretical foundations, practical exercises, and reflective activities to deepen participants’ understanding of ASD and its implications for emergency care and to enhance their communication and problem-solving skills in serving this marginalized population.


Course Duration

  • Two months. Six weekly one-hour synchronized online classes on Tuesday evening (time to be arranged and agreed between students and faculty) and two four-hour in-person classes (Tuesday after week 3 and week 7, to be arranged between students and faculty). Total of 8 classes (6 synchronized online classes and two in-person classes). One-hour pre-class reading before participating in online and in-person classes.


Course Instructor

Alice is a Master of Nursing student and a mother of two autistic children. She has over 20 years of experience in the emergency department as a critical care nurse, a palliative nurse, a vascular access nurse, and a former interventional radiology nurse. Alice’s family has personally experienced how being neurodivergent can significantly impact the care and support provided to individuals who have it. Unfortunately, her family has faced ableism and exclusion not only in healthcare settings but also within the wider community. There is a significant gap in knowledge and understanding of what neurodivergence is, which leads to stereotyping and prejudice against the neurodivergent population. However, this prejudice is not the view of the population.


With increased community awareness, knowledge, and involvement in neurodivergence, society can create a more inclusive and accessible community for the neurodivergent population. Alice has completed the level one certificate of the ASD caregiver program from Kinark Autism Services and has attended multiple caregiver education workshops based on evidence-based practices from services such as Kinark, Kerry’s Place, 1to1 Rehab, etc. Furthermore, her major paper for her Master of Nursing program focuses on the lived experience of the caregiver (professional healthcare provider) in emergency department settings while caring for the neurodivergent population.


She works as a critical care nurse in an emergency department that services different age groups, including the neurodivergent population. Creating this course allows healthcare professionals to provide high-quality care to the neurodivergent population during emergency visits and identify any knowledge gaps that we can improve within the medical system in Canada.


Course Target Audience 

  • Primary Healthcare Providers ([PHP], physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and any personnel working in the emergency department with recent interaction with the autistic population within the past year)


Course Capacity

  • 6-10


Course Location

  • 6 One-hour weekly synchronized online classes and two 4-hour in-person classes at Irene Strickland Auditorium (a.k.a. Old Cafeteria).


Course Language

  • English
  • Medical terminology


Course Prerequisite

  • Regulated healthcare providers with a minimum of 1 year experience working within the emergency department.
  • Foundational knowledge on head-to-toe assessment.
  • Willingness to learn with an open mind.
  • Computer literate


Course Delivery:

  • This course employs a blended approach, combining synchronous online sessions with in-person workshops and activities. Students will engage in interactive discussions, case studies, role-plays, and reflective exercises to facilitate learning and skill development. Online modules will be supplemented with real-world scenarios and practical demonstrations during in-person sessions, allowing participants to effectively apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations.


Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:


  1. Explore the diverse sensory needs and communication challenges individuals with ASD may present during emergency visits.
  2. Recognize the potential challenges individuals with ASD may face during emergency visits.
  3. Identify strategies for anticipating, recognizing, and accommodating the sensory needs of individuals with ASD in emergency settings.
  4. Develop effective communication strategies tailored to the needs of individuals with ASD and their families during emergency visits.
  5. Support medical and nursing care with critical thinking and problem-solving skills to navigate through challenging situations.
  6. Reflect on personal attitudes and biases towards individuals with ASD and adopt a compassionate and inclusive approach in emergency care delivery.


Learning Outcomes

  1. Gain a comprehensive understanding of ASD, including defining its characteristics, diagnosis, and prevalence. Understand the diverse needs and perspectives of individuals on the autism spectrum.
  2. Support potential challenges faced by individuals with ASD in emergency care settings.
  3. Develop and demonstrate practical and critical thinking skills to problem-solve based on individual sensory needs.
  4. Recognize and make connections between ASD-related information and emergency care practices.
  5. Combine course material with real-life emergencies, integrating knowledge into daily professional experiences.
  6. Reflect on self-awareness regarding personal biases and assumptions when interacting with individuals with ASD. Foster empathy towards individuals with ASD in emergency care settings.
  7. Commit to providing person-centered care to enhance the overall well-being of individuals with ASD during emergency visits.
  8. Share knowledge gained within the course through effective communication with peers and colleagues.


Course Structure

Online components of Enhancing Emergency Care for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will cover six different topics each week, which are released at once when the course is launched.


  • Week 1: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Online)
    • Introduction to ASD: Characteristics and Spectrum
    • Neurodiversity and Individual Differences
    • Impact of ASD on Emergency Care


  • Week 2: Anticipating Challenges and Planning Ahead (Online)
    • Identifying Common Triggers and Stressors
    • Preparing the Environment for ASD Patients
    • Collaborative Care Planning with Patients and Families


  • Week 3: Addressing Sensory Needs (Online)
    • Sensory Processing in ASD
    • Creating Sensory-Friendly Environments in Emergency Settings
    • Practical Strategies for Sensory Regulation


  • Week 4: PHP Assemble and Creating Circle (In-person)
    • Revisit topics covered in week 1-3
    • Hands-on practice
    • Discussion forum


  • Week 5: Effective Communication Techniques (Online)
    • Communication Challenges in ASD
    • Strategies for Clear and Concise Communication
    • Building Rapport and Trust with ASD Patients and Families


  • Week 6: Problem-Solving in Emergency Situations (Online)
    • Case Studies and Simulations
    • Decision-Making under Pressure
    • Collaborative Problem-Solving Techniques


  • Week 7: Reflective Practice and Personal Growth (Online)
    • Self-awareness and Attitude Reflection
    • Empathy and Compassionate Care
    • Continuous Improvement in Emergency Care for ASD Patients


  • Week 8: PHP Assemble and Closing Circle (In-person)
    • Revisit topics from the previous eight weeks
    • Hands-on practice
    • Discussion forum


Teaching and Learning Activities

  • Interactive questions and discussions during online meetings to encourage engagement and reflection.
  • Pre- and post-learning surveys to gauge understanding and track progress.
  • Hands-on practice using low-tech and high-tech autism communication strategies and visual supports such as a picture exchange communication system (communication board, visual schedule, and Augmentative and Alternative Communication [AAC] tools).
  • Class materials, including videos and readings on the sensory needs of the ASD population (developed and produced by credible sources along with best-practice guidelines from CAM-H, H-CARDD, Hospital for Sick Children, etc).
  • Simulated emergency scenarios, role-playing exercises, and case studies.
  • One-minute essays after each class to encourage reflection.
  • Weekly journaling and online discussions for active learning and peer feedback.
  • Monthly in-person meetings for physical practice of conversations and feedback.
  • Student-led discussions to encourage participation and feedback.


Situational Factors

  • 6-10 students, targeted for healthcare professionals working in emergency departments.
  • The class will be conducted using professional language, including medical terminologies.
  • Hybrid format with synchronized online 1-hour weekly classes (Tuesday evenings, to be agreed upon between students and faculty) and two 4-hour in-person classes (Tuesday after Week 3 and Week 7) in a physical classroom (Irene Strickland Auditorium).
  • Online materials provided for review before weekly online meetings. (Materials will be posted on the course website)
  • Participants are encouraged to lead discussions to foster feedback and engagement.
  • Lower division course, but participants must be regulated medical professionals with experience in emergency care and exposure to caring for individuals with ASD.
  • Course focuses on enhancing communication and assessment skills for emergency care of individuals with ASD.


Feedback & Assessment

  • Formative assessments include small group activities, reflection questions (one-minute essays), and blog posts (journaling to keep track of progress and as part of personal portfolios).
  • Ongoing feedback is provided to facilitate learning enhancement.
  • Summative assessments include monthly in-person meetings, hands-on practice sessions using a picture exchange communication system, low-tech and high-tech communication strategies, and iLearn multiple choice questions pre- and post-class to evaluate the understanding of materials presented.
  • Direct observation and evaluation of communication techniques in scenarios.
  • Feedback is frequent, immediate, discriminating, and supportive to facilitate ongoing improvement.



This course has the following types of assignments:

Type Description
Concept Checks, Reflections/Journals, and Pre/Post-Class Questionnaire Short-form free response, one-minute essays, multiple choice questions, and true/false questions.
Discussion Short-form free responses for building a personal portfolio
Hands-on practice A series of short activities during each week to get familiar with different tools and strategies for communication.


Grading Rubric

Enhancing Emergency Care for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will be graded according to the following rubric:

Interactive Questions and Discussions during Online Meetings

Performance Levels Description Points
Excellent (4) Consistently engages in discussions, asks insightful questions, actively listens to peers, and contributes meaningfully to the conversation. Demonstrates reflection and critical thinking skills. 4
Proficient (3) Regularly participates in discussions, asks relevant questions, and engages with peers. Demonstrates some reflection and critical thinking skills. 3
Developing (2) Participates inconsistently in discussions, asks occasional questions, and demonstrates limited engagement with peers. Reflection and critical thinking skills are emerging. 2
Below Expectations (1) Rarely participates in discussions, rarely asks questions, and shows minimal engagement with peers. Lacks reflection and critical thinking skills. 1


Pre- and Post-Learning Surveys

Performance Levels Description Points
Excellent (4) Completes surveys thoughtfully, accurately, and consistently. Demonstrates a deep understanding of the material and shows significant progress over time. 4
Proficient (3) Completes surveys adequately, with some thoughtful responses. Demonstrates a satisfactory understanding of the material and shows some progress over time. 3
Developing (2) Completes surveys inconsistently or with minimal effort. Demonstrates limited understanding of the material and shows little progress over time. 2
Below Expectations (1) Fails to complete surveys or provides irrelevant responses. Demonstrates a lack of understanding of the material and shows no progress over time. 1


Hands-On Practice with Communication Strategies

Performance Levels Description Points
Excellent (4) Demonstrates proficiency in using both low-tech and high-tech autism communication strategies with accuracy and creativity. Shows evidence of understanding individual needs and adapting strategies accordingly. 4
Proficient (3) Demonstrates competence in using communication strategies with occasional errors. Shows understanding of individual needs but may need guidance in adapting strategies. 3
Developing (2) Shows effort in using communication strategies but struggles with accuracy or creativity. Requires significant guidance in understanding individual needs and adapting strategies. 2
Below Expectations (1) Demonstrates limited effort in using communication strategies, with frequent errors and lack of understanding of individual needs. Requires constant guidance in adapting strategies.


Passing the course

The passing grade for this course is 80%



This course aims not only to equip healthcare professionals with the necessary competencies to provide high-quality care to individuals with ASD in emergency settings but also to foster a culture of empathy, understanding, and inclusivity within emergency departments. Through a combination of theoretical learning, practical exercises, and reflective activities, participants will emerge as confident and compassionate caregivers, capable of meeting the unique needs of ASD patients and their families with professionalism and dignity.



Week 1 Agenda:

Housekeeping (5 minutes)

  • Welcome students.
  • Discuss pre-class survey to gauge students’ understanding and expectations regarding ASD.


Session 1: Introduction to ASD (15 minutes)

  • Brief introduction to the course objectives and structure.
  • Definition of ASD and explanation of the spectrum.
  • Discussion on the characteristics of ASD and examples of behaviors commonly associated with it.
  • Interactive Q&A session to clarify doubts and share personal experiences related to ASD.


Session 2: Neurodiversity and Individual Differences (10 minutes)

  • Explanation of neurodiversity and its importance in understanding ASD.
  • Discuss individual differences among individuals with ASD, emphasizing strengths and challenges.
  • Interactive activity where participants share their perspectives on neurodiversity and individual differences.


Session 3: Impact of ASD on Emergency Care (10 minutes)

  • How ASD can impact emergency care situations.
  • Discussion on strategies for providing effective emergency care to individuals with ASD.
  • Interactive scenario-based exercise where participants discuss and role-play emergency care situations involving individuals with ASD.


Session 4: Introduction to Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) (10 minutes)

  • Overview of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) as a communication tool for individuals with ASD.
  • Demonstration of PECS and its components.
  • Interactive activity where participants practice creating and using PECS cards.


Session 5: Role-Playing Exercise (10 minutes)

  • Explanation of the importance of empathy and understanding in interactions with individuals with ASD.
  • Role-playing exercise where students perform different roles to simulate interactions with individuals with ASD in various scenarios.
  • Debrief to discuss insights and lessons learned from the role-playing exercise.


Session 6: Weekly Journaling (10 minutes)

  • Introduction to the weekly journaling activity.
  • Explanation of the purpose of journaling and its benefits for reflection and learning.
  • Assignment of journaling prompts related to the topics covered in the session.
  • Encourage students to reflect in their journals on their learning, insights, and personal experiences related to ASD.


Closing Circle (5 minutes)

  • Summary of key takeaways from the session.
  • Reminders about upcoming sessions and assignments.
  • Thank participants for their active participation and engagement.
  • Encourage participants to continue exploring and understanding ASD beyond the course.


Post-Class Activities

  • Provide resources for further reading and learning about ASD.
  • Encourage participants to journal throughout the week and prepare for the next session.
  • Collect feedback on the session to tailor future sessions accordingly.



  • Formative Assessment: Participation in discussions and completion of activities.
  • Summative Assessment: Reflection on journal entries, performance in hands-on exercises, and completion of online multiple-choice questions on iLearn and short answer questions to show understanding of best practice.


Feedback Mechanisms:

  • Immediate feedback during activities and discussions.
  • Ongoing feedback through journal entries and online discussions.
  • Monthly in-person meetings for personalized feedback and practice sessions.


Materials Required:

  • Stable wifi
  • Computer
  • Lecture slides
  • Case studies
  • Videos on ASD and sensory needs
  • Picture exchange communication system, low-tech, high-tech communication strategy, AAC tools for hands-on practice
  • Journaling prompts
  • Online discussion platform (Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Team, Whiteboard, Jamboard, Kahoot, iLearn, etc.)


Preparation for Students:

  • Review pre-assigned readings/videos.
  • Prepare to engage in discussions and activities.
  • Complete the pre-class survey.


Syllabus for Formative and Summative Assessment:


Formative Assessment:

  1. Weekly quizzes assessing understanding of theoretical concepts (20%)
  2. Participation in online discussion forums reflecting on practical exercises and case studies (20%)
  3. Completion of reflective journals after each module (10%)


Summative Assessment:

  1. Written assignment: Development of a personalized communication plan for an ASD patient during an emergency visit (20%)
  2. Simulation-based assessment: Role-play scenarios in a simulated emergency setting (30%)


Total: 100%




Bloom’s taxonomy. Centre for Teaching Excellence. (2023, November 14). Retrieved from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/catalogs/tip-sheets/blooms-taxonomy#:~:text=An%20introduction%20to%20Bloom’s%20Taxonomy,to%20different%20levels%20of%20learning.

Dee Fink, L. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. Retrieved from http://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf

Educational Origami. (n.d.). Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy . Retrieved from https://teachonline.asu.edu/2016/05/integrating-technology-blooms-taxonomy/

Autism Association of South Australia. (2020, February 13). Autism communication strategies. The Spectrum. Retrieved from https://thespectrum.org.au/autism-strategy/autism-strategy-communication/

Sewell, J., Frith, K. H., & Colvin, M. M. (2010). Online assessment strategies: A primer. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(1), 297-305. Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol6no1/sewell_0310.pdf

University of Central Florida (n.d.). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved from “http://www.fctl.ucf.edu/teachingandlearningresources/coursedesign/bloomstaxonomy”

UNSW. (n.d.). Selecting Technologies. Retrieved from https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/selecting-technologies

3 Replies to “WK6 LA3 Draft Online Design Plan”

  1. Hi Alice,
    This is a very detailed and interesting course you have proposed. I especially like the use of pre and post ‘test’ to gauge knowledge. This is a strategy I use often when I teach as it lets me know where the basic knowledge of the subject lands for the majority of my students. I am also wondering if you could condense the learning outcomes a little as many of them have the same tone.

  2. Hi Alice,
    It is great to see your planning for your course grow and evolve – as Debra highlighted you have a lot of great detail. I do have one overall comment about the assessment. Typically we don’t see grades associated with formative assessment – formative assessment is designed to give students feedback to help them move forward in their learning, and grading that work can get in the way of that process. So you may provide quizzes that are for formative assessment (students self-assess their learning), and then they can practice, determine where their gaps are, and then you could have a follow-up quiz that is for marks/grades (so a summative assessment of their learning). So as students reflect on their learning they are doing formative assessment, and then if you provide feedback that helps – but if you are then evaluating it with a mark it becomes summative assessment. The activities you have outlined in the “feedback mechanisms” sound like great opportunities for formative assessment. Michelle

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