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. 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

  2. was a very good course

  3. 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!

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

  5. 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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