University of Derby introduces new MOOC to provide better knowledge on autism, Asperger’s and ADHD

A new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to educate anyone interested in learning more about autism, Asperger’s and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been launched by the University of Derby.

The course titled ‘Understanding Autism, Asperger’s and ADHD’ is designed to teach those interested in learning more about the classification, assessment and diagnosis of autism, Asperger's syndrome and ADHD.

MOOCs are short, free courses run by major learning providers to share their knowledge of a particular academic topic or to help learners develop a specific skill.

Autism is a lifelong disability which, without the right support, can have a profound effect on individuals and their families. An estimated 700,000 people in the UK are living with autism. Together with their families they make up around 2.8 million people whose lives are touched by autism.

Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism, and is a lifelong condition which affects how an individual makes sense of the world, digests information and interacts with other people. Asperger’s syndrome is mostly a 'hidden disability.

ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders and it can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behaviour, and hyperactivity.

ADHD is thought to affect between 3 - 9% of school age children and young people in the UK.

The MOOC will be introduced from June 13, 2016 and has been developed jointly by the University of Derby’s Academic Innovation Hub, University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) and the College of Life and Natural Sciences.

Dr Simon Bignell, Course Leader and Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby, said:

No matter what their level of understanding, this course will challenge learners to explore the connections and differences between these three conditions.

The course will encourage students to consider the often fine lines between autism and the subtypes of ADHD and other conditions that are often first identified in childhood, and enable them to explore their own perceptions about these conditions along with commonly held assumptions about classification, assessment and diagnosis and the ethics of treatment.

The course will include stories from experts, practitioners and parents which will be accompanied by stimulating course material.

The units include:

  • ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Classification, assessment and diagnosis
  • Aetiology: theories and causes
  • Comorbidity
  • Treatment

This self-paced six-week free course is suitable for anybody who is interested in learning more about autism, Asperger’s syndrome or ADHD, including family members, carers, residential social services representatives, counselling professionals, fostering services, private nurseries and children centres staff, teachers, staff of special needs schools, and those interested in special educational needs.

Munib Hadi, Head of the Innovation Hub at the University of Derby, added: “We are hoping this MOOC will bring together a wide range of people to better understand these challenging conditions and interact by sharing their unique experiences them.”

The University has also launched three other MOOCs, including:

  • Bridging the Dementia Divide
  • Digital Me: Managing Your Digital Self
  • Innovating in Operations Management

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