In any course, it is easier to meet the needs of the student if the instructor knows something about them. This course is not a one-shot deal. You will be asked to give your email and will receive free emailed newsletters as a follow-up. If I know something about the students and their interests, I can better write or select articles to meet their interests. If you don’t have email, don’t stress. We have the Julia Group Forum, with a section on early childhood.

You will be asked to write your opinions and experiences. You can post these yourself on the Julia Group Forum or you can answer in the web forms you will find throughout the course. You always have the option of using your name or being anonymous.

As a young person, I was like most staff members working in homes for people with disabilities. That is, I had very little experience or education for my job. I had a college degree in an unrelated field and had taken this job because it fit conveniently around my hours for graduate school which was not, as you might guess, in anything related to disabilities, but in business. It was a job to me, not a life calling, but I tried to do the best I could.

I was taught by my mother and grandmother that part of being a good person was to help people who needed your help and to be kind. With all good intentions, there were many times in those first years when I did not know what I was doing. I relied on co-workers to share their experiences (this is why you are asked to share yours) and the occasional course I was able to take, sponsored by my employer (this is why we are teaching this course).

In the 30 years since I began in this field by working in a group home, I have had experience in a wide range of areas. For years I did research at top universities where we told ourselves what we were doing would make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. Sometimes that was true. Often, it wasn’t in any way I can possibly figure out. I would read articles on how the definition of Autism had changed over the last 50 years, or the percentage of people with Autism in Sweden versus the United States, or statistical articles I had to read four times to understand (and I specialized in statistics for my Ph.D.!)

In the end, in writing this course, Willie and I decided to do what we always do in developing our on-line courses… begin with the individual in mind. I tried to look at who might be using this course – the person who has a child with Autism in her classroom, after school program or day care center. The person just like me 30 years ago. At each step, we tried to select the videos, the information, that would meet the needs of that person. We hope with your feedback we will be able to continue to refine our courses to meet your needs better.