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Colorado Department of Education Professional Development - Autism Spectrum Disorder Literacy Institute, Tier 1

Autism Spectrum Disorder Literacy Institute, Tier 1

Audience: Educators, Other District/School Staff | Topic: Autism, Special Education | Hosted by: Office of Special Education

Blended format. Autism Spectrum Disorder Literacy Institute, Tier 1
Blended format


This statewide institute will be conducted by nationally recognized experts on literacy and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dr. Christi Carnahan and Dr. Pam Williamson. The institute content will focus on a balanced approach to literacy including instruction in phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing. Each aspect of literacy will be linked to the unique cognitive, social, and communication issues inherent in ASD. Assessment strategies will include an overall estimation of the students' literacy abilities from interactive to independent, which will help teachers determine what additional literacy assessments may be needed to inform instruction. Measures of student outcomes and teacher outcomes will be incorporated into the project, developed by the presenters.

This training will be conducted in a virtual format in the fall followed by two days of in-person training in February, 2022 (In the event in-person training is no longer available due to county, state, district or CDE guidelines the in-person training will change to a virtual format).


Virtual Sessions

  • Session 1: September 29, 2021 (Wednesday)
    8:30 am - 3:30 pm (MT)
  • Session 2: October 21, 2021 (Thursday)
    12:00 pm - 3:00 pm (MT)
  • Session 3: December 8, 2021 (Wednesday)
    12:00 pm - 3:00 pm (MT)

In Person Sessions: 
Location in Denver Metro To Be Announced (Will be broadcast to sites around the state)

  • Session 4: February 16, 2022 (Wednesday)
    8:30 am - 3:30 pm (MT)
  • Session 5: February 17, 2022 (Thursday)
    8:30 am - 3:30 pm (MT)

Tier 1 Flyer (PDF)

Target Audience:

The institute is ideally designed for teams of certified school members who work directly with students with autism spectrum disorder. Teams can include general and special education teachers, speech, and language pathologists, reading interventionists or other members who design/deliver literacy instruction. Due to limited space and need to enroll professionals responsible for delivering/designing literacy instruction, this course is not open to paraeducators. All accepted participants will be asked to share implementation information with parents, paraeducators, and administrators. To ensure fair representation across the state, the number of teams accepted to attend from each district/AU may be limited.


The Exceptional Student Services Unit of the Colorado Department of Education provides the funding for the presenters. There will be no reimbursement provided to participants.

Application for Registration

Registration will close on September 14, 2021, at 5pm.

Tier 1 Registration

About the Presenters:

Dr. Carnahan

Dr. Christina R. Carnahan is an associate professor of special education in the School of Education, College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services at the University of Cincinnati. Additionally, Dr. Carnahan is the director of Advancement and Transition Services within the School of Education. Dr. Carnahan's research interests include literacy and communication interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other complex communication and behavioral support needs, and creating efficient and effective instructional practices across the lifespan. Dr. Carnahan has published in journals such as Exceptional Children, Journal of Special Education, and Focus on Autism and Developmental Disabilities. She is also the co-author of two books including Quality Literacy Instruction for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Facilitating Evidence Based Practice for Students with ASD: A Classroom Observation Tool for Building Quality Education.

Dr. Williamson

Dr. Pamela Williamson is a professor at the University of North Florida. She has experience working with individuals with autism and their teachers in the area of reading intervention and instruction. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles related to reading and autism in journals such as Exceptional Children, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, the Journal of Special Education, Intervention in School and Clinic, and Teaching Exceptional Children. In addition, she is the coeditor of an award winning textbook, Quality Literacy Instruction for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and has educated in-service educators, related service personnel, and families on this topic across the U.S.

Event Date and Time

  • Wednesday, September 29, 2021 (All day)


Online & In-Person Locations - TBD


Participants must complete all sessions to receive a certificate of attendance (24 CDE hours). Partial credit will not be given.

Participants are required to attend the full-day sessions LIVE:

  • September 29, 2021
  • February 16, 2022
  • February 17, 2022

Participants are required to attend at least one of the half-day sessions LIVE:

  • October 21, 2021
  • December 8, 2021

Participants will have virtual coaching opportunities from the presenters for additional clock hours for a remote project identified during the institute.

Professional development events offers a certificate

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