Short course

Understanding Autism, Asperger's and ADHD

Online course details



Next course date

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6 units, 3 hours of study per unit

CPD hours

18 CPD hours


Self-guided online learning



Online course description

This free online short course is designed to help you learn more about autism, Asperger's and ADHD, their differences and the importance of understanding the classification, assessment and diagnosis.

In this course you will consider the often fine lines between autism, Asperger’s and the subtypes of ADHD, as well as explore your own perceptions and assumptions of autism and ADHD along with commonly-held assumptions of classification and assessment.

Please note: that this course is scheduled to be updated and so some of the terms used and perspectives portrayed may now have evolved. However, the course remains a valuable source of guidance and information for those who would like to develop a better understanding autism, Asperger's and ADHD.

Who is this course for?

ADHD is one of the most common childhood conditions and it can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. ADHD is thought to affect between 3-9% of school age children and young people in the UK (NICE, 2013).

Likewise, around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Together with their families they make up around 2.8 million people whose lives are touched by autism in the UK alone (National Autism Society, 2016).

The exact causes of both autism and ADHD are poorly understood, although much can be done to support people with these conditions.

The course is designed to help raise awareness and encourage communication and education about these issues in the community and amongst professionals and stakeholders within health and social care settings.

This course will:

Understanding Autism, Asperger’s & ADHD

View Understanding Autism, Asperger’s & ADHD video transcript

"I liked the fact that I could progress at my own rate without any pressures. I liked the way the course was laid out and was divided into units. The resources were relevant and the videos broke up the text nicely. I have learned a lot, and will take away a lot of new information to put into practice."

Understanding Autism, Asperger's and ADHD, Online Learner

Structure, certificates and assessment

Endorsed by the ADHD Foundation

This course is endorsed by the ADHD Foundation. To learn more about the ADHD Foundation, visit the ADHD Foundation website.

This massive open online course does not hold any credits and cannot be used as a top-up for your University credits.


If you are interested in exploring what else the University of Derby Online Learning has to offer, browse our online courses.

We are proud that our online course has been recognised by the ADHD Foundation.

Endorsed by the ADHD foundation

An accredited provider of the CPD Standards Office

We are proud to be an accredited provider of the CPD Standards Office for our online short courses and free courses, demonstrating that they conform to CPD best practice and are appropriate for inclusion in a formal CPD record.


Accredited CPD Centre Logo - The CPD Standards Office, CPD Provider 60069, 2024-2025

Course units

The course is made up of 6 units, each will require approximately 3 hours of study.

In this unit we will look at the main symptoms, subtypes and diagnostic criteria relating to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and hyperkinetic disorder.

This unit will cover an overview of autism and Asperger’s, as they are defined in diagnostic manuals. It will also cover the symptoms, prevalence, assessment and diagnosis of autism and how it differs from Asperger’s.

An exploration of what classification is, how assessment happens in the UK and how the conditions covered in this free online course are diagnosed.

We will explore what ADHD and autism are, theories of ADHD and autism and scepticism towards these conditions.

We will explore the main issues surrounding comorbidity in ADHD and autism. We will also examine, if ADHD and autism are really that different and what an overlap of symptoms might suggest.

We will look at the main issues surrounding treatment for autism and ADHD. We will focus on medication, behavioural interventions other treatments and problems with treatment as well as parent advocacy groups and prognosis amongst others.

This massive open online course is comparable to level 6 on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ), however it does not hold any credits and can not be used as a top-up for your University credits.

Upon finishing the course, you will be issued an E-Certificate stating that you have completed the full course, so that you can add it to your CV or education portfolio.

If you're interested in exploring what else University of Derby Online Learning has to offer, browse our online courses.

Learning outcomes


A flexible course that fits in with working and family life

You will receive a valuable insight into the lives of both: those providing care, and individuals diagnosed with these challenging conditions, as well as receive an opportunity to get involved in global discussions related to many aspects of autism, Asperger’s and ADHD.

This free short online course will encourage you to challenge your own definitions and perceptions of autism and ADHD. You will get an opportunity to examine several key themes around both autism and ADHD in order to obtain skills to help people with these conditions.

The course is ideal for families of those diagnosed with autism or ADHD and those working or seeking a career in education and health and social care industries.

Course requirements

How to enrol

All of our free courses are delivered through an easy-to-use online learning platform, which you can enrol from directly.

What you will need

The course is free and widely available for anyone to take part in regardless of age, location or education status. You will need to agree to the terms and conditions before you start the course which will be available when you enrol.

However, there are some basic requirements. You will need access to the internet whether it is on your PC, tablet, mobile or other electronic devices, as well as a valid email address to register with our online learning environment in order to take part in the course.

Once registered, please be aware that all study for this course is online and so you will need to be able to engage with this via a personal device, preferably a computer or laptop, for the stated duration of the course.

The learning platform is compatible with screen reader technology to assist those with visual impairments.

Dr Simon Bignell
Course author

Simon is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby; a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society; and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

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Contact us

If you want to find out more about studying a short course, please contact us and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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