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Resource Center

The ASERT Resource Center serves as Pennsylvania’s leading source for up-to-date and accurate information and resources for individuals with autism, their families, the community and the professionals who support them. Contact the ASERT resource center to speak with a resource specialist who can help you learn how to discover and access resources in Pennsylvania.

When should I contact the Resource Center?

If you have additional questions about information you found on or would like to invite an outreach specialist to attend an event, conference, or support group, someone at the resource center can assist you.

Be sure to visit the following pages below here on to find helpful information. If you still have additional questions, contact the Resource Center.

By phone

Are you located outside of Pennsylvania?
The ASERT resource center is focused on specific resources in Pennsylvania. If you are in another state, the resources specialists will not be able to help you. Please visit the resources section of, as some of the online resources may be applicable to residents of other states.


Support Professional Resources

As direct support professionals working with individuals with autism on a daily basis, you may be working to address a variety of concerns, collaborate with different family members and professionals, and coordinate services from a number of systems. Your time is limited and we know it is important to provide you with resources and training support that is accessible to your needs and schedule. This resource collection was created with the goal of providing accessible training and content for direct support professionals. 

This bundle organized by nine major categories below, with eight infographics that also have an associated online Prezi training to walk through the content more in-depth. Each infographic indicates the competency they meet, an introduction of the content and strategies to support individuals. Resources were developed in collaboration with the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP): Bureau of Autism Services (BAS), the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative Eastern Region, and Consultant Val Paradiz.
There are also additional resources from the rest of the ASERT website that are relevant to direct support professionals. We hope this resource is helpful to you, and we look forward to continuing to build on this collection.

Resources were developed in collaboration with the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP): Bureau of Autism Services (BAS), the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative Eastern Region, and Consultant Val Paradiz.

Characteristics of Autism - Infographic and Prezi Link

Competency: Overview of Autism
There is a common saying: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Autism is a spectrum of strengths, challenges and individual preferences and characteristics.

The Spectrum of Communication

Competencies: Communication; Empowerment and Advocacy
Communication permits us to advocate for our needs, develop relationships, and participate in our community. When supporting someone with Autism, the most important thing to keep in mind at all times is that speech does not equal communication.

Stress, Anxiety, and Depression - Infographic and Prezi Link

Competencies: Emotional/Mental Health & Wellness
Stress, anxiety and depression are common challenges many of us face. The people you support deal with these challenges as well, though the triggers and expressions may look different at times.

Noticing Signs of Mental Health Concerns - Infographic and Prezi Link

Competencies: Emotional/Mental Health, Evaluation & Observation, Crisis Prevention & Intervention
It is natural to experience emotional ups and downs. Life events affect everyone, and some of us are more vulnerable to experiencing mental health challenges because of life events both past and present.

Trauma and Coping

Competencies: Empowerment and Advocacy; Emotional and Mental Health
Trauma awareness and its impact on quality of life are growing. Trauma comes in many forms and can arise from a broad range of situations or experiences that occur throughout the lifespan.

Fostering Interpersonal Relationships

Competencies: Community Living Skills and Supports; Relationships/Social Skills
The associations we have with others are a critical part of our lives. Our interpersonal relationships provide love, support, and a connectedness that all of us need.

Identity, Sexuality and Interpersonal Relationships

Competencies: Cultural Competency; Person-Centered Culture
In the human services field, it is important to be open-minded and accepting of an individual’s gender identification and sexuality no matter what your views are on these subjects might be. Those you support have the right to understand and express themselves as human beings with regard to their gender identity and sexuality.

Encouraging Independence - Infographic and Prezi Link

Competencies: Community Living Skills & Supports, Empowerment & Advocacy
You’re likely familiar with the saying, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

Supporting New Habits

Competencies: Person-Centered Practices; Positive Behavior Support
Habits are the things we do routinely day after day. When we get up, how we dress, and whether we exercise are all examples of daily habits. In a sense, we are the product of our habits, and sometimes it’s necessary to change habits if they do not serve our health or well-being.

Adjusting to New Situations

Competencies: Community Living Skills & Supports; Familial and Environmental Considerations
Change is part of everyday life. The ability to change is central to our growth as individuals.

Relating Personally and Professionally - Infographic and Prezi Link

Competencies: Professionalism & Ethics, Communication
The work of a direct support professional is demanding and rewarding. In your daily work with someone with autism, you probably find yourself balancing many things, such as how much you offer assistance versus how much you can foster independence.

Building a Relationship of Mutual Respect - Infographic and Prezi Link

Competencies: Professionalism & Ethics, Person-Centered Culture
Everyone wishes to be treated with respect. The best way for you to gain the respect of someone you support is to build a relationship of mutual trust.

Communication Works Both Ways - Infographic and Prezi Link

Competency: Communication
There is a common misconception that because a person with autism can speak, she doesn’t need support in communication.

Individualizing Support

Competencies: Person-Centered Practices; Person-Centered Culture
Every person with Autism is a unique individual with their own set of strengths, needs, and life goals. While support may be required, each person with Autism has infinite potential that can be fostered with proper planning and support.

Identifying Strengths and Supporting Needs - Infographic and Prezi Link

Competencies: Person-Centered Culture, Empowerment & Advocacy
One of the crucial roles you can play in the lives of those you support is to assist them in identifying and developing their strengths. Sometimes, when you are working in a supportive role, it’s easy to overlook a person’s strengths. 

Future Planning

Competencies: Empowerment and Advocacy; Familial and Environmental Considerations
Planning for the future can mean a number of things to a number of people, and for people with Autism, considering how to shape one’s future can pose problems because of the need for concrete ways of learning or processing information.

Supporting Safe Behavior

Competencies: Safety; Positive Behavior Support
It’s likely that a person with autism you support experiences a variety of behaviors that you must respond to while maintaining professional practice.

Risk Identification and Reporting

Competencies: Evaluation and Observation; Crisis Prevention and Intervention; Safety
Individuals with autism, like other individuals with disabilities, may be considered a “vulnerable” population. Identifying when someone you support is engaging in behavior that puts him or her at risk is critical to your support role.

Crisis Intervention and De-Escalation

Competencies: Crisis Prevention and Intervention
In your direct support to adults with autism, it is possible that you will encounter moments of crisis. A crisis can be triggered by environmental, social and communication stressors, changes in schedules or routines, task anxiety, and other factors.

Removing Personal Judgement

Competencies: Cultural Competency; Person-Centered Culture
Every one of us has a right to be who we are and not to be judged because of our differences. It can be very damaging to make assumptions about a person based on their culture, ethnicity, or disability.

Using Vision Boards to Find Community Supports

Competencies: Community Living Skills and Supports: Community Inclusion and Networking
Community supports are those organizations and activities that improve quality of life by allowing individuals to be active within their local community.

Community Involvement

Competencies: Community Inclusion and Networking; Relationships/Social Skills
The experiences we have within our community are as important as our experiences in the privacy of our homes.

Navigating Health Services

Competencies: Community Living Skills & Supports; Health & Wellness; Person-Centered Culture
Although receiving health care is a universal experience, each of us have highly specific treatment and intervention needs.

Finding Resources

Competencies: Community Living Skills and Supports; Community Inclusion and Networking
Supporting an individual with autism to find resources within his or her neighborhood, town, county or broader metropolitan region provides a unique opportunity for you to teach fundamental skills in community living.

LANTERN: Lifespan Autism iNstruction, Training, Education, and Resource Navigation

This guide houses trainings for professionals, individuals and family members. This guide is divided into sections organized by training competencies, and then further organized by tier levels in an effort to meet professional, individual and family member training needs.

Be Safe Resource Collection

This collection of resources provides a range of both prevention and intervention resources related to sexual abuse and assault. Resources are broken down into categories for individuals, professionals, caregivers and general resources, as well as those for children and adults. 

Physical Health Resource Collection

This resource collection provides resources by condition as well as general physical health resources for individuals with autism, their families, and providers. 

Mental Health Resource Collection

This collection of resources focuses on the topic of mental health and provides general mental health information as well as specific resources related to anxiety, depression, behavior, services and assessment, psychopharmacology, and crisis intervention. 

Social Story Resource Collection

This bundle is a collection of social stories developed by ASERT and other professionals. Social stories can be a helpful took for individuals to prepare for and understand different situations. 

Visual Schedules Resource Collection

This collection of resources includes information about visual schedules and using visual schedules for individuals with autism. These resources have information for individuals with autism, their families, providers and the community. 

Transition Toolkit Collection

This resource is a collection of transition toolkits across the lifespan, organized by transition period from infancy to adulthood. 

Applied Behavior Analysis Toolkit Collection

This collection of resources provides information on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) including an introduction to ABA, how you can tell if a child is receiving ABA services, what to consider when choosing a provider, informationon insurance coverage for ABA services and more. 

LGBTQI Resource Collection

 This collection of resources provides background information on LGBTQI topics as well as specific resources for families, individuals, policymakers and healthcare providers, as well as support groups and organizations. 

ASERT eLearning Trainings

The ASERT eLearning page offers free, online trainings across a variety of topics for both community members and direct support staff and other professionals. 

Social Skills In Everyday Life: Practical Strategies for Individuals with Autism (For All)

This course provides an understanding of social skills associated with autism and how those deficits affect everyday social interactions, discusses common social skills targets and how to teach social skills in everyday life, and how to help individuals generalize social skills in everyday social interactions. 

Cyber Safety: Having Fun and Staying Safe Online (For Professionals)

This course provides information regarding the benefits and risks of technology for individuals with autism, how characteristics of autism can influence online behavior, tips to increase online safety awareness, and tools to teach others about online safety. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder 101 (For All)

This course provides a brief overview and history of autism, symptoms and diagnosis, tools and strategies that can be used when working with individuals who have autism, as well as additional resources for learning more. 

Preventing Sexual Abuse and Assault in Individuals with Autism: Direct Support Professional Curriculum

This course provides information on the prevalence and pathways to sexual abuse/assault, why individuals with autism are at increased risk  for sexual abuse/assault, primary signs of sexual abuse/assault, the importance of teaching sexual safety, how to monitor interactions to reduce risk and the process for reporting suspected sexual abuse/assault. 

ASERT Support Group Map

This resource provides a listing of support and self-advocacy groups across the state of Pennsylvania, listed by county. Individuals can use the interactive map to search by county to find support groups, including in-person and online groups. 

MyODP Training Platform

This training and resource platform, maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Developmental Programs, offers a wide range of resources and trainings for professionals, as well as individuals and families. 

Health Care Quality Units (HCQUs) Trainings

The Health Care Quality Units (HCQUs) work to support and improve the health information and knowledge for the intellectual disabilities community service system by building capacity and competency within the physical and behavioral health care systems as well as the stakeholders of the ID/A system. This page allows users to search the HCQU online course catalog for free, online trainings. 

Pennsylvania College of Direct Support (CDS) 

The College of Direct Support (CDS) is a web-based training curriculum that provides learning opportunities on many topics of importance to people with developmental disabilities and those who support them. Since 2003, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Developmental Programs has supported the use of the CDS as a way to offer effective, consistent training to Direct Support Professionals, Supports Coordinators, supervisory and managerial staff, self-advocates, families and other interested parties across the Commonwealth.

Other Autism Resources

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