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Archived News: Across Virginia
October 2012

VCU Receives Federal Grant to Determine Best Practices to Facilitate Employment for Youth with Autism

Here's an excerpt from the 10-17-12 VCU Office of Public Affairs News Release!

Virginia Commonwealth University, together with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services and Henrico County Public Schools, has received a $2.5 million grant to expand research in how to best help youth with autism gain and maintain employment upon graduation.

The five-year grant, from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research-United States Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, will expand a current randomized controlled trial at a local hospital in Richmond, Va., where all students who participated in the project in the first three years were subsequently hired as employees by that hospital. The new grant will continue that research as well as fund research sites in two additional community hospitals in northern and southeastern Virginia. The VCU team is focused on employment issues and improving social and cognitive behavior of youth with autism.

Please click here to read the complete announcement!

Community Idea Stations – NPR conducted a radio interview with Paul Wehman, Ph.D.on October 24, 2012 on this new grant that will allow VCU to expand its autism work training.

To hear the interview, click here.

A new Resource has just been added to the Adolescents section of the VCU-ACE website!

Project SEARCH for Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Increasing Competitive Employment On Transition From High School

Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, October 23, 2012

Authors: Paul Wehman, Carol Schall, Jennifer McDonough, Alissa Molinelli, Erin Riehle, Whitney Ham and Weston R. Thiss

Supporting youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the transition to adulthood is challenging. This article provides a description of how Project SEARCH, a model transition program for youth with disabilities, was used to help youth with ASD gain competitive employment. This article includes two case studies and a thorough description of the additional supports provided to increase successful employment on graduation from high school. Key Project SEARCH program components include setting a goal for employment, providing successive intensive internships in a community business, and assuring collaboration between school and adult services staff. Supports specific to students with ASD include providing intensive instruction in social, communication, and job skills; visual supports; and work routine and structure. These supports are described in the provided case studies.

The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/1098300712459760
Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions published online 23 October 2012


October is Disability Awareness Month in Virginia’s Public Schools!!

Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction at the VA Department of Education, recently announced that October was Disability History and Awareness Month in Virginia’s Public Schools. The following is an excerpt from her Superintendent’s Memo to Division Superintendents:
“Public awareness, knowledge and understanding of disabilities promote full participation by students with disabilities into school and community activities. Heightened awareness of individual contributions by people with disabilities advances inclusive communities. Guided by these beliefs, a group of young people with disabilities who are alumni of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities’ Youth Leadership Forum initiated a resolution that was passed by the 2009 General Assembly designating October as Disability History and Awareness Month (DHAM). The following vision statement was developed by this group for DHAM -- Disability history, education, and awareness will promote positive attitudes in schools creating a culture of mutual respect, understanding, and equal opportunities for all.”

The Partnership for People with Disabilities sent a DVD containing public service announcements to each Director of Special Education in VA. These PSA’s are also available at the link found here. In addition, resources that can be used to promote and highlight Disability History and Awareness Month in Virginia during October can be found at several websites -- The Virginia Center for Self-Advocacy Leadership (under the Disability Awareness tab) and in the online modules found on the I'm Determined website (online modules).

VCU-ACE encourages you to support this initiative and help promote disability awareness and education in VA by sharing the information and tools with others.


The First Cohort of the Virginia Applied Behavior Analysis Consortium (VA ABA Consortium) Has Started!

The VA ABA Consortium is a collaborative effort between George Mason University, Lynchburg College, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. This fall twenty students from all around Virginia are taking classes together through this shared endeavor. The Consortium uses video technology to offer courses through face-to-face meetings using a combination of video conferencing, web conferencing, and Blackboard. Through video and web conferencing, students are able to experience real-time, interactive, multipoint instruction at one of the four universities while collaborating with fellow students at each of the universities.

The VA ABA Consortium's primary goal is to provide teachers with instruction in applied behavior analysis that will broaden the range of empirically-supported teaching methodologies that they effectively use to meet the academic, social, and behavioral learning needs of diverse students. The VA ABA Consortium's secondary goal is to provide teachers with the educational and experiential requirements needed to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Examination.

The VA ABA Consortium cohorts will begin each Fall Semester. Please visit the website for more information.


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