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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, touching on 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. 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.

Other Autism Resources

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