Special Educator Training Modules

Supporting Students with Special Needs:

Online Training Modules for School-Based Professionals
who Support Students with Disabilities

The following series of open-access training modules, developed by Hussman & Holman (2018) in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, has been developed to offer systematic training and support for school-based professionals who work with students with disabilities. They include essential content and skills intended to advance the professional development of school staff, and to enhance the educational experiences and outcomes of students with disabilities.

These comprehensive, user-friendly modules cover topics including disability awareness, essential dispositions such as the presumption of competence, individualized education plans, least restrictive environment and other central concepts in special education, key roles and responsibilities, student engagement, communication strategies, positive behavior supports, instructional adaptations, sensory accommodations, strategies to support meaningful inclusion and relationships, and more.

School systems and families are encouraged to share these online training modules with any of their school-based faculty and staff. Schools are encouraged to incorporate the training modules as part of their orientation programs for new faculty and staff, as well as review for veteran teachers. Since adult support professionals play a vital role in supporting students with disabilities throughout their entire school day, these modules offer a greatly needed resource of knowledge, dispositions, and skills.

Jump to modules

Principal Investigators:

Dr. John P. Hussman – Hussman Institute for Autism:
Content development, research, module programming & integration
Dr. Katherine C. Holman – Towson University:
Project management, grant coordination, focus group moderation & beta-testing, follow-up support

Special thanks to Marcella E. Franczkowski of the Maryland State Department of Education for supporting this project.

Programming Team:

John P. Hussman: Content, programming, scripting, narration, animation
Colleen George: Content, programming, focus group liaison
Emma Blass: Video and photo asset creation, focus group and school-based filming
Patti Mackie: Content, schools liaison

We are grateful to our focus group participants, the staff and students of Maryland public schools, Paula Kluth, Mary Schuh, Grant Blasko, Brooke Steinau, Lisa Crabtree, Beth Benevides, Fernanda Orsati, Ashlyn Smith, Casey Woodfield, and Tress Flynn for helpful content suggestions, examples, narration, and administrative support.

Non-Profit Use:

These training modules are provided free of charge. Module slides may be freely reproduced for non-profit use, provided that each slide is properly attributed with the reference below, including the address or link to the full set of training modules. Use of this content without attribution is prohibited. To copy a slide, use your Print Screen key, then paste into any graphics editor.

Reference: Hussman, J.P. & Holman, K.C., 2018, Supporting Students with Special Needs: Online Training Modules for School-Based Professionals who Support Students with Special Needs, Hussman Institute for Autism & Towson University, www.scaffolds.org/learn/special-educator-training-modules

Click below to access each module








Resource Packet:

Supporting Students with Special Needs: Resource Packet (PDF)


  1. Hi. I found two things in Module 5, in the Scenario, the scenario is about “Ethan” but one of the choices names “Cameron”.
    The other thing is in Supporting Participation, the question reads: “Can participation by increased by changing the lesson format?” I think it should read: “Can participation be increased….”
    Sorry. I just really love these modules and am sharing them with my district so I want them to stand for the quality they represent.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful tool. I am using it to develop a training model for our district. I had my paraeducator use it when we had a shelter-in-place. They really enjoyed it and learned a lot! I’m going through them now myself and I noticed that in Module 4, at the end in “Check for Understanding” question #4 is a drag and drop matching question. There seems to be something wrong with it when you submit. It corrects you on topics from a different module. You might also want to look at question #8, maybe I was reading it wrong, but the statement seems awkward.

  3. Hello, can I have a certificate after finishing the modules?

  4. very good course! learned a lot of new and useful information!

  5. very good course! learned a lot of new and useful information!

  6. All people deserve to be treated equal no mattter of their color visual disabilities and. Physical disabilities
    Everybody learns on different levels and ways but all can be taught to learn.
    Also you must have Patience Be kind and have compasion along with heart full of LOVE

  7. I enjoyed the modules they gave me the opportunity to reevaluate my skills.

  8. This was so informative. I have a much clear view.

  9. This was so informative speaking from a former long term sub. to a reading IA’s. This helped me understand the students I work with more. I can honestly say I can teach with a better approach or understand students needs clearer. I honestly think we all could benefit from this every year. Thank you

  10. These courses were refreshing and informative. I am glad that I was given the opportunity to review this information again. I have gained additional information on autism and how to support each student, in inclusive environments.

  11. Very good course

  12. Definitely a keepsake and a “ go to manual “ for future reference. A great reminder of our calling to our students and what we as general and special educators can do to help our students excel in spite of differences. “Empathy “ on a whole new level. Thank you.

  13. Helpful refresher. Very informative.

  14. Highly informative material! I learned important information that has definitely helped me to understand my students better and gave me a better much needed respect for them and their disability! I luvd my students before but I luv them so much more now! Thank You so much!

  15. Very informative and allowed me to know that I knew more about some modules than I thought as well as gave me knowledge to strengthen areas that I thought I knew well. I use a lot of this things in my classroom and have never really give thought to what the full bulk is because I just know what my students need and give to them without thinking about all of the textbook savvy terms and terminology. There are also many things that I will begin to use in my classroom to assist with more learning disabilities and behavior. Very Informative and Wonderful take-aways from the modules!

  16. These are great refresher courses

  17. Each modules was very informative. Learned to information .

  18. The information in each modules were very helpful in my daily teaching.

  19. It was very useful to me. I learned many new things. It was a great course to do.

  20. These modules not only highlighted skills I have learned and used, but added to my knowledge that will be put to use!

  21. This course was very informative !

  22. A.Bray
    That was a wealth of incredible information. I will be preferring back to it. Thank you for this opportunity.

  23. Great information. Give clarity and insight into the students ability over disabilities.


  25. Very informative information and some excellent strategies for supporting and engaging with disability students

  26. Very informative and some excellent strategies for supporting engagement with peers in young students!

  27. These resources are very beneficial; we would like to embed a video (properly attributing with the correct reference) from the Positive Behavior Support module to use in our Proactive Behavior Strategies PowerPoint resource for special educators. Could we have access to the video (first video in Module 3)?
    Thank you for your consideration.

  28. Yo tengo un hijo con autismo leve pero el diagnóstico es autismo nunca he podido encontrar a yuda y mi hijo le cuesta a prender solo quisiera que porfabor me ayudarán porque yo no sé qué hacer espero por el a mor de Dios me den a yuda gracias

    1. Donde vives? Puedes encontrar ayuda con Partner for Success en su county. Mary Barbera es una madre y professional con un podcast y recursos para ayudar madre and padre como usted. Tambien puede encontrar ayuda com el Autism Society en su county.

  29. was a very good course

  30. I have learned so much more about autism. I had a non-verbal student with autism. This module gave me much more insight into what his thoughts were. I learned many new sensory reports. I truly enjoyed this module!

  31. I have a much clearer understanding of the neurological aspects related to Autism after viewing this presentation.

  32. We’re excited to make these open-access modules available to schools, families, and communities. This comment board is moderated, and we’ll be creating more tools to answer questions and offer useful information. We’re also working on additional resources, references, key idea sheets, and supports that can be laminated. Meanwhile, please feel free to distribute this link to anyone who might benefit from the trainings: https://www.scaffolds.org/learn/special-educator-training-modules Speaking for Kay Holman at Towson University and our team at the Hussman Institute for Autism, we hope you’ll find these useful. Thanks! – John

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