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Public Health Approaches in Autism and Developmental Disabilities

East Baltimore
3rd term
Mental Health
3 credits
Academic Year:
2019 - 2020
Class Times:
  • Tu Th,  3:30 - 4:50pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor s:
Dani Fallin

The course should be of use to anyone interested in a broad overview of autism epidemiological and etiological research and the methods employed, including public health professionals and those who must translate research findings in the clinical or educational setting. Thus, targeted audiences include students, academic faculty, public health, clinical, educational and programmatic professionals interested in autism.

Examines public health approaches to the assessment, etiology, services, and policy issues related to autism and developmental disabilities. Introduces the state of the science of autism and developmental disabilities epidemiology, and emerging questions for Public Health. Includes presentations and discussions of current information on descriptive epidemiology, genetics, environmental risk factors, and prognosis of ASD. Presents research on long-term outcomes in individuals with ASD. Provides an overview of research progress to date and points to challenges as we work to learn more about this enigmatic neurodevelopmental disability.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the history and diagnostic criteria for autism and developmental disabilities
  2. Discuss measurements and assessments of ASD, and evidence supporting competing theories about rising prevalence
  3. Assess existing evidence for demographic and environmental risk factors for autism and developmental disabilities
  4. Recognize promising avenues for genetic research while being mindful of remaining challenges
  5. Summarize status and challenges of global public health efforts for autism and developmental disabilities
  6. Identify areas of public health research and practice that can inform ASD prevention, identification, treatment, and services
Methods of Assessment:

Discussion participation (30%). Students will be asked to submit a discussion question prior to each session and will be expected to participate in the discussions after each lecture. Attendance for each session is also required and will contribute to participation points. Students may miss one class. Students should email Dr. Fallin and Ms. Rojo-Wissar if something comes up where they have to miss more than one class. Student individual presentations (30%). Students will give a 10 minute presentation on one of the suggested presentation papers. Student presentations will be graded based on organization, content, and presentation (i.e. use of a clear, audible voice, length of presentation being within assigned time limit, etc.). Final exam (40%). The exam will be in short answer format, given during the penultimate course session and reviewed during the final course session.

Instructor Consent:

No consent required