Tag Archives: autism

MindEd: free e-learning about kids mental health

logoThe new MindEd website is a free e-learning resource to help adults to identify and understand children and young people with mental health issues. It is aimed at everyone with a duty of care for children and young people, and already offers over 100 short e-learning sessions, with more to follow.

MindEd is completely free to use, with no registration required, although if you do sign up as a MindEd member (free) and complete several sessions, you can record your studying on your personal page and print it as a certificate for your learning record.

I tried five different Autism sessions from within MindEd’s curricula, ranging from introductory sessions aimed at a universal audience, through to a more specialised session. Each is between 20-30 minutes long, and is complete with learning objectives, interesting interactive tasks, case studies, short video clips with transcripts, and self-assessments that help you check what you have learnt. The sessions are colourful and attractive, and the references provided are up-to-date.

MindEd claims to be suitable for use on tablets, phones or computers, so I tried it on a contemporary Android smartphone, as well as a desktop computer. MindEd did not display well on the phone, and cannot be downloaded for offline use, so, for example, it might be difficult to use during commuting journeys.

Another characteristic to bear in mind is that there is no social dimension to MindEd – there are no student forums in which to debate the topics, which are a typical component of MOOCs such as Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People on Coursera or Foundations of Psychology on Open2Study. Perhaps MindEd is better thought of as an interactive reference library that you dip into when needed.

I am very impressed that this project has been created by a consortium of more than seven organisations, and can imagine the amount of work that it has taken. I’d encourage you to explore it – currently MindEd is available to anyone, wherever you are, although eventually users outside the UK may need to buy a licence to access the website. I’ll be very interested to hear your feedback and comments, as I am sure that I have only scratched the surface of this huge resource.

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Autistic Spectrum – three more free online courses

3492401705_0fe96f78c5_qUse your computer to study the Autism Spectrum from home, with these free high-quality courses.

1. Autism Internet Modules (AIM) by Ohio’s Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI)
The AIM project provides parents and professionals with the up-to-date information needed to help individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders achieve their highest potential. To this end, OCALI offer 43 comprehensive & sophisticated modules, alongside their free textbook the ‘Ohio’s Parent Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders‘ which features in the training. There’s a one-off free enrolment required to access these excellent resources.

2. Autism Training Modules from The Thompson Center at Missouri University
The Thompson Center offers five free online training modules to individuals wanting to learn more about autism. The modules were developed by the Mid-Missouri Rapid Response Initiative, a project funded by the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities. The five modules topics are:
* Autism in young children
* The screening and referral process
* Evidence-based practices and interventions
* Transitions to adulthood, and
* Building the family-professional partnership.
The five modules feature slides, videos and quizzes, and as with the OCALI modules above, there’s a one-off free enrolment required to access the modules.

3. Yale’s Autism and Related Disorders
This 2010 initiative by Frank Volkmar at Yale University’s Child Study Center offers free undergraduate course materials to anyone wishing to learn about Autism Spectrum Disorders. It is divided into eleven topics and comprises PowerPoints, videos, audios and some readings. No enrolment is required, and the project is released under a Creative Commons license. The resources offered by Yale are of very high quality, but unfortunately some of the recommended core readings are in expensive books or subscription journals, making them inaccessible to many ordinary people.

How do these compare?
Previously, in Autistic Spectrum: Free e-learning modules, I covered three courses by the Geneva Centre for Autism, The UK Open University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). These are all still available, so which should you choose? Here’s how I would position them:

My current overall favourite is the range from the Geneva Centre for Autism, for their attractive and engaging presentation, their bi-lingual versions and their release with a Creative Commons license.

Ribbon byBeverly & Pack

Free Autism Spectrum e-books

NIMH a-parents-guide-to-autism-spectrum-disorder2

Starting or extending your personal Autism reference library? Begin by trying these four free, reputable e-books written for the public (with or without Autism), parents and professionals.

A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder (2011) by the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) .
This short guide is intended to help parents understand what autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is, recognize common signs and symptoms, and find the resources they need. It is a useful 27-page book  offered in Epub and Mobi formats for e-readers, alongside the common PDF format, and it is also published in Spanish.  public_domain_logo-69px

Ohio’s Parent Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders (2009) from OCALI – The Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence.
This 274-page manual provides an overview of the world of autism spectrum disorders. It was developed by Ohio parents, for Ohio parents, with examples provided from their experiences. The information included in the manual is a result of their answers to the question: When your child was first diagnosed, what information did you need most?
The manual covers a wide range of topics of interest to families, and each chapter contains rich reference materials, including books, websites, and names of organizations where additional information on each topic may be obtained.

A Spectrum of Relationships (2011) by C. S. Wyatt
The author reflects on his own experiences as a diagnosed high-functioning autistic individual navigating the complex and sometimes frustrating social situations of daily life. This is a free 81-pages-long abridged edition in ePub format. It can be downloaded from the author’s popular blog The Autistic Me, which features more reflections on daily life with autism from his perspective of a university professor.

IACAPAPFinally, section C2 of the IACAPAP Textbook of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (2012) covers autism spectrum disorders.
The 
IACAPAP Textbook is a global publication by the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions in Geneva, and is intended for professionals training or practising in mental health and not for the general public. This colourful 27-page chapter can be downloaded as a PDF. CC by nc