Agencies and Organizations
Virginia Autism Council
VCU-ACE works in collaboration with the Virginia Autism Council to advance higher education, training, and educational opportunities for personnel and caregivers supporting individuals with ASD.
VAC is a state-supported council of autism experts who provide leadership and coordination for state agencies and service providers. The council's mission is to increase knowledge and understanding of autism spectrum disorders in the wider community and to advance higher education, training, and educational opportunities for personnel and caregivers supporting individuals on the spectrum.
The council's website is Virginia's clearinghouse on research-based education and training opportunities in the area of autism. Additionally, VAC provides tuition reimbursement for individuals taking course work designed to prepare them to work with students on the spectrum.
Among other accomplishments, the council has worked with state and national autism experts to develop the "Skill Competencies for Professionals and Paraprofessionals in Virginia Supporting Individuals with Autism Across the Lifespan." The skill competencies guide personnel development and provide a comprehensive list of skills and knowledge needed to effectively serve this population.
For more information, visit the council's website.
Virginia Department of Education's Training and Technical Assistance Centers
The mission of the Training & Technical Assistance Center (T/TAC) is to improve educational opportunities and contribute to the success of students by increasing the capacity of schools, school personnel, service providers, and families to meet the needs of children and youth with disabilities.
The mission of T/TAC is in direct alignment with VCU-ACE. Therefore, there is collaboration with T/TACs throughout the state to improve the outcomes and success of our students with ASD. There are a number of occasions for collaboration; however, a few ventures include:
- VCU-ACE will work jointly with T/TAC to implement year 2 of the National Professional Development Center-ASD grant. This grant provides targeted technical assistance to select school divisions throughout the state by creating a model classroom.
- VCU-ACE and T/TAC will co-sponsor a summer institute for school divisions receiving technical assistance through the NPDC-ASD grant.
- T/TAC at George Mason University will conduct research regarding online training initiatives and will work with VCU-ACE to enhance web based training throughout the state.
- VCU-ACE and the VDOE TTAC's collaborate on the statewide Communities of Learning in Autism (CoLAs). VCU-ACE and the VDOE TTAC's develop and facilitate CoLAs within each Region and the groups are tailored to the needs of the region based upon the areas targeted for growth by the members of the group. Members of the CoLAs will be comprised of the leaders in service delivery for students with autism in each division. This includes autism specialists, instructional specialists, master teachers and individuals in administrative or quasi-administrative roles who provide in-division consultation and support to teachers with caseloads and/or classrooms.
For more information, visit the T/TAC website.
Region 3 - Old Dominion University -- T/TAC website & the College of William and Mary -- T/TAC website
Region 4 - George Mason University -- T/TAC website
Region 5 - James Madison University -- T/TAC website
Region 6 - Virginia Tech -- T/TAC website & Radford University T/TAC website
Region 7 - Virginia Tech -- T/TAC website & Radford University T/TAC website
Region 8 - Virginia Commonwealth University -- T/TAC website
The Partnership for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU-ACE works in collaboration with the Partnership for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University (the Partnership) to extend and expand the work of Virginia's National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders project. This project is administered through the Partnership with the National Professional Development Center on ASD at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The Partnership is Virginia's university center for excellence on developmental disabilities. For over 25 years, the Partnership has worked with individuals with disabilities to strengthen communities, schools, and families to be fully inclusive places. Their mission is to create communities where all people live, work, and play together with choices and independence. The Partnership accomplishes their mission through interdisciplinary collaboration with schools, state and local agencies, universities, and community stakeholders.
The Partnership created the Center for Family Involvement (CFI) with the goal that parents/families and the professional with whom they work embrace the family's central role in improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. CFI works with families to increase their skills as decision makers, mentors, and leaders so that their family members and other with disabilities can lead the lives they want. VCU-ACE partners with the CFI to provide information and referral to individuals with autism and their families. In addition, through a federal grant, the Partnership and the Rehabilitation Research & Training Center (RRTC) are supporting Virginia Commonwealth University students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (aged 18- 26) in a 30-month inclusive, individualized college experience. These students leave the program with a certificate.
Individuals who are interested in learning more about the Partnership can turn to their website to read about their many grants, projects, and products.
Virginia Act Early Task Force
Virginia has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with ASD in the past decade. Knowing that outcomes are greatly improved with earlier diagnosis and treatment, VCU-ACE actively participates in the Virginia Act Early Task Force to facilitate the critical first steps towards identification, diagnosis, and intervention planning. As a special area requiring Commonwealth wide intervention, efforts are designed to improve the skills and knowledge of professionals to accurately and reliably identify children and adolescents with ASD, thereby lowering the age of identification.
The Virginia Act Early Task Force has a vision for infants, toddlers, and young children with ASD and their families to be provided with quality screening and assessments, which are delivered in a timely and culturally competent manner. This requires increased training and the development of local capacity throughout the Commonwealth. This also involves efforts aimed at both the medical and educational fields.
Medical Services: Improve the ability of physicians (pediatricians, family practice specialists, developmental pediatricians, psychologists, neurologists, etc.) to identify the early signs of ASD, screen for, and diagnose ASDs across all ages using sound clinical models and gold standard tools.
Educational Eligibility: Improve the ability of school psychologists and other educational team members to determine whether a child or adolescent is eligible for special education services under the disability category of autism using sound data and gold standard evaluation tools.
Thus far, the Virginia Act Early Task Force has been successful in providing a variety of training activities throughout the Commonwealth. This has included the development and launching of an online course for medical personnel titled Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Other efforts have focused on convening a taskforce comprised of both medical and educational personnel to study various models for screening and diagnosis.
Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia
The Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia provides early intervention supports and services to infants and toddlers from birth through age two who are not developing as expected or who have a medical condition that can delay normal development. Early intervention supports are services focused on increasing the child's participation in family and community activities that are important to the family. In addition, supports and services focus on helping parents and other caregivers know how to help the child learn during everyday activities.
VCU-ACE works in collaboration with the Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia to implement the Community of Practice in Autism (CoPA). The CoPA shares knowledge and information about evidence based practices among service providers who support infants, toddlers, and young children diagnosed or suspected of having autism. Further, collaboration includes developing and providing training activities targeted to service providers to enhance knowledge, skills, and ability to implement family-centered practices. Visit their website.
Grafton has collaborated with the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center in the Department of Special Education and Disability Policy since 2008 in order to accomplish the mission and goals of the Virginia Autism Resource Center (VARC). This has included providing information related to ASD, developing resources, and conducting training.
More recently, the VCU-ACE elicited the expertise of Grafton to expand training activities and events offered through web based learning. Grafton's experienced staff provide literature reviews and develop online seminars and courses to advance knowledge and skills of parents and professionals who support a person with ASD.
Grafton offers a range of services to assist children, youth, and adults with disabilities. Grafton provides children's services for individuals between the ages of 6 and 21 through the provision of treatment and education. For those over the age of 18, Grafton provides programs for individuals who require long-term supported residential services, including day support, group homes, and customized services. Grafton's expertise helps individuals with ASD to become more independent and to be included in their regular community activities. For a thorough description of Grafton, please visit their website.
The Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC)
The Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC) is a nonprofit, nonsectarian center in Roanoke, VA that provides education and services for children and families affected by autism and unique learning challenges, such as Learning Disabilities. BRAAC works with VCU-ACE to enhance training activities by providing video-based examples of the use of evidence-based practices in a classroom setting.
Commonwealth Autism Service (CAS)
VCU-ACE works in collaboration with Commonwealth Autism Service to implement research and training efforts to improve the skills and knowledge of professionals to accurately and reliably identify, determine eligibility, and assess the educational needs of children and adolescents with ASD. CAS is a state-supported organization that provides services to families, schools, organizations, professionals, and individuals with ASD. CAS collaborates with regional, governmental, and private service entities to accomplish their mission, which is: To provide leadership in the implementation of a statewide system of services to maximize the potential and quality of life of each Virginian with autism across the lifespan. CAS's website provides information on state resources, autism related news, and events.