Postgraduate Course: Autism and Developmental Disabilities (EDUA11405)
|School||Moray House School of Education and Sport
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course takes a psychological perspective on understanding cognitive and social development in infants, children, and young people (and in some cases adults) with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The course has a strong focus on autism, but also explores Down's syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Williams syndrome and non-specific intellectual disabilities. The course will explore: how knowledge of autism and other developmental disabilities can inform, and be informed by, theories of 'typical' development; the key theoretical approaches used to understand developmental disabilities; the developmental trajectories of cognitive and social skills in a range of developmental disabilities and whether these are quantitatively or qualitatively different from typical development; the implications of developmental disabilities for young people's quality of life/socio-emotional well-being, for interventions and education, and for family adjustment. Throughout the course there will be a focus on both classic and recent research findings, and through this, participants will develop an awareness of: relevant research methods; the importance of community involvement in research; the potential applied value of research findings; and the ethical issues surrounding research in this field.
This course takes a psychological perspective on understanding cognitive and social development in infants, children, and young people (and in some cases adults) with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The course has a strong focus on autism, but also explores, Down's syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Williams syndrome and non-specific intellectual disabilities.
The course begins by exploring some of the broader issues in this field. Psychological research is placed in context, as one of a range of approaches to understanding developmental disabilities. Indeed, throughout the course, students are encouraged to reflect upon the merits and limitations of Psychological approaches to this field of enquiry. Students are also asked to critically engage with some key broad theoretical approaches used to understand developmental disabilities in this discipline (e.g. behavioural phenotype approach). There is also discussion of how knowledge of developmental disabilities can inform, and be informed by, theories of 'typical' development, a theme which is returned to throughout the course.
Each week students are then asked to explore the research and theories around a key topic in this field. In particular, there is consideration of cognitive and social development in autism and across a range of other developmental disabilities. Students are asked to critically engage with the research on this, exploring evidence for e.g. distinctive profiles of development, changes with age, key influences on development, and whether development is quantitatively or qualitatively different from typical development. The implications of developmental disabilities for young people's quality of life/socio-emotional well-being, for interventions and education, and for family adjustment will also be explored, and the research evidence (or lack of evidence) in these areas will be considered.
Throughout the course, students are encouraged to consider development holistically, considering the two-way relationship between the individual and their environment (e.g. family), and the role that societal and cultural factors play in development, and in the life experiences of those with developmental disabilities.
During the course there will be a focus on both classic and recent research findings, and through this, participants will develop a critical awareness of relevant research methods. Students are also encouraged, where appropriate, to consider the impact of research methods, theories and research findings on the lives and communities of individuals with developmental disabilities. Issues around terminology, the way in which communities and participants are involved in the research process, and other methodological and ethical issues surrounding research in this field are also considered.
There will be 10 weekly classes. In each, students will explore a current issue in the developmental psychology research on developmental disabilities. This will include a focus on: general and specific theories of developmental disabilities (e.g. cognitive theories of autism); specific aspects of cognitive or social development (e.g. theory of mind, memory, executive functions, friendship); interventions and education; family experiences. The course is largely structured according to areas of development (e.g. social, cognitive), rather than according to different developmental disabilities. This is to encourage consideration of domain-general issues and influences, and factors that are similar or differ across different developmental disabilities. Throughout the course there will be discussion of methodological and ethical issues surrounding research in this field.
Student learning experience:
In weekly classes, students will be asked to engage with a range of learning experiences, including: interactive lecture content; video clips; small and whole group discussion; small group tasks (e.g. designing research-informed interventions); and (where possible) input from guest speakers.
Outwith classes, students will be asked to undertake and reflect on reading before each class. Reading is predominantly of quantitative research, but no prior knowledge of research methods in this field is assumed. Students will also be encouraged to develop the academic literacy skills required for the final assignment by engaging with resources provided in class and via other sources (e.g. Institute for Academic Development).
Students will be expected to evidence and demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes via discussion, input into group activities, and, ultimately, the final written summative assignments.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1)
|Course Start Date
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Assignment; 1000 word blog-post (20%); 3,000 word essay (80%)
||There will be many opportunities for informal, formative feedback during the course, both from the course organiser and from peers. Students are encouraged to discuss with peers and the course organiser how to make best use of this feedback, and to use available resources to help them do so (e.g. University's Enhancing Feedback website and the Institute for Academic Development).
There will be an opportunity for students to received feedback on their plans for the essay assessment. This will take place towards the end of the course, and the format of the session will be developed following consultation with students.
Feedback on summative assessments
Written feedback will be provided on both of the summative written assignments.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of research on cognitive and social development in developmental disabilities
- Critically evaluate key psychological theories relating to developmental disabilities
- Discuss the implications of developmental disabilities for young people's quality of life/socio-emotional well-being, for interventions and education, and for family adjustment
- Demonstrate a critical awareness of the methodological and ethical issues surrounding research in this field.
|A list of specific chapters and journal articles ('core reading') to be read for each class will be provided to students at the beginning of the course. The books and journals listed here are generally relevant for this course. There is no expectation that students read all of these. However, they may be useful if you wish to follow up particular topics.|
General developmental psychology:
Carpendale, J. & Lewis C. (2006). How children develop social understanding. Malden, MA/London: Blackwell.
Goswami, U. (2008). Cognitive Development: The learning brain. Hove: Psychology Press.
Smith, P.K., Cowie, H., & Blades, M. (2015) Understanding Children¿s Development (6th ed). Oxford: Wiley.
General developmental disabilities reading:
Farran, E., & Karmiloff-Smith, A. (eds). (2012). Neurodevelopmental disorders across the lifespan a neuroconstructivist approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Florian, L. (Ed.) (2014). The SAGE handbook of special education (2nd ed). London: Sage.
Holmes, J. (2010). Developmental disorders and interventions. London: Academic.
Mazzocco, M. M. & Ross, J. L. (Eds.) (2007). Neurogenetic developmental disorders. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [chapters on Fragile X and Williams syndromes]
Morton, J. (2004). Understanding developmental disorders: A causal modelling approach. Oxford: Blackwell.
Odom, S.L., Horner, R. H., Snell, M. E. & Blancher, J. (Eds.) (2007). Handbook of developmental disabilities. New York: Guilford Press.
Van Herwegen, J. & Riby, D. (Eds.) (2014). Neurodevelopmental disorders: Research challenges and solutions. London: Psychology Press.
Baron-Cohen, S., Lombardo, M. & Tager-Flusberg, H., (Eds.) (2013). Understanding other minds: Perspectives from developmental cognitive neuroscience (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Boucher, J. (2017). The autistic spectrum: characteristics, causes and practical issues (2nd ed.). London: Sage.
Bowler, D. (2007). Autism spectrum disorders: psychological theory and research. Chichester: Wiley.
Charman, T. & Stone, W. (2006). Social and communication development in autism spectrum disorders: Early identification, diagnosis and intervention. New York: Guilford Press.
Fletcher-Watson, S., & Happé, F. (2019). Autism: A New Introduction to Psychological Theory and Current Debate. London: Routledge.
Frith, U., & Hill, E. (2003). Autism: Mind and brain. Oxford: Royal Society & OUP.
McGregor, E., Núñez, M., Cebula, K.R. & Gómez, J.C. (Eds.) (2008). An integrated view of autism: Perspectives from neurocognitive, clinical and intervention research. Oxford: Blackwell.
Cicchetti, D. & Beeghly, M. (Eds.) (1990). Children with Down syndrome: A developmental perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Stratford, B. & Gunn, P. (Eds.) (1996). New approaches to Down syndrome. London: Cassell.
Faragher, R., & Clarke, B. (Eds.) (2014). Educating learners with Down Syndrome: Research, theory and practice. Oxon: Routledge.
Bellugi, U. & St George, M. (Eds.) (2001). Journey from cognition to brain to gene: Perspectives from Williams syndrome. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Semel, E., & Rosner, S. (2003). Understanding Williams syndrome : Behavioral patterns and interventions. London: Erlbaum.
Fragile X syndrome:
Dew-Hughes, D. (Ed.) (2004) Educating children with fragile X syndrome: A multi-professional view. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Willemsen, R., & Kooy, F. (2017). Fragile X syndrome from genetics to targeted treatment. London: Academic Press.
American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
British Journal of Developmental Psychology
British Journal of Educational Psychology
Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disability
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
Research in Developmental Disabilities
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||A. Research and Enquiry
- search for, evaluate and use information from a range of sources, to develop their knowledge and understanding
- recognise the need to challenge knowledge
- recognise the importance of reflecting on their learning experiences and level of understanding
- apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to pertinent issues in research
B. Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
- be open to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking
- be creative and imaginative thinkers
- be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning, and are committed to continuous reflection and self-development
- be able to use collaboration and debate effectively to test and develop their own views
- be intellectually curious and able to sustain intellectual interest
- further their own learning through effective use of a range of communication approaches, including effective questioning
- synthesis and clearly communicate key research findings to peers
- seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness
D. Personal Effectiveness
- be able to work effectively with others, capitalising on their different thinking, experience and skills
|Keywords||autism,developmental disabilities,education,intellectual disabilities,developmental psychology
|Course organiser||Dr Katie Cebula
Tel: (0131 6)51 6463
|Course secretary||Mr Craig Russell