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Archived News: Across Virginia
May 2012

News from the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC) in Roanoke!

New and exciting things are happening at the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC) based out of Roanoke, VA! They will be starting their first three week camp for individuals with High Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome this July. Camp will include interaction with horses, daily swimming, pottery, woodworking and much, much more, Campers develop their own camp, have a "mystery" theme and the focus will be problem solving and social interaction, Also, BRAAC is working hard to open their Lynchburg location in August of 2012! Call them to learn more, or visit www.braacroanoke.org

 

New VA-ABA Consortium Announced!

VCU-ACE is pleased to announce a collaborative partnership between George Mason University, Lynchburg College, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Commonwealth University to provide the Virginia Applied Behavior Analysis (VA-ABA) Consortium. The 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 Consortium's secondary goal is to provide teachers with the educational and experiential requirements needed for them to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Examination.

The VA-ABA Consortium provides students with a unique experience to work with other students throughout the state of Virginia as well as professors from each of the universities. Currently five courses are offered through face-to-face meetings using a combination of video conferencing, web conferencing, and Blackboard. A supervised field experience is also offered through the VA-ABA Consortium. This experience focuses on the integration of theoretical and practical concepts related to supporting individuals with disabilities and behavioral concerns in educational settings. It provides the opportunity to apply knowledge of assessment, instructional strategies, and environmental and technological supports while working collaboratively with parents and educational teams to develop individualized programming.

Consortium applications are currently being accepted and are due by July 20, 2012. For further information about the program and how to apply, please visit the VCU-ACE or the Consortium websites.

 

Training for Paraprofessionals Now Required in Virginia Schools

As many school administrators, teachers, and parents have heard, the Virginia House and Senate passed House Bill 325 during the 2012 General Assembly session. This Bill requires school divisions to ensure that paraprofessionals assigned to work with teachers who have primary oversight of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) receive training in behavior support strategies. The legislation also directs the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to outline standards to meet this mandate.

In an effort to comply with this new legislation, as well as meet its mission of improving the knowledge and skills of educators who support someone with ASD, VCU-ACE now offers an online course for paraprofessionals. The course, Autism Spectrum Disorders for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports includes five learning modules:

• Characteristics of ASD;
• Roles and Responsibilities of the Paraprofessional;
• Foundational Instructional Practices;
• Supporting Communication and Social Skills; and
• Providing Positive Behavior Supports.

The course is available online and users are able to complete the content at a time convenient for them. However, this is not a typical self-paced course. Participants have one month to complete the 5 learning modules. Access to the modules is staggered across the duration of the month to help the participant devote the proper time for learning and complete the embedded learning activities. Due to the generous grant from the VDOE, the course is currently free to Virginia residents. VCU-ACE Director of Training, Dawn Hendricks commented on the new legislation and VCU-ACE course, “Paraprofessionals are on the front lines every day with students with autism spectrum disorder and training is essential to improving educational experiences and outcomes for these students.”

In December 2011, the Commonwealth’s 132 school divisions reported 13,137 students with autism as their primary disability, a 490 percent increase since 2000. “These statistics underscore the importance of VDOE’s partnership with VCU to assist school divisions in educating and supporting children with autism spectrum disorder and preparing these students for productive and independent lives,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said. She followed, “This new training course will equip teaching assistants, bus aides and other support staff with the knowledge and skills they need to help students with autism experience success.”

 

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