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What's New at ACE?

New Communication Tools

VCU-ACE is excited to offer two new tools for educators working on communication skills with their students! In addition to our other resources and information on Communication developed through our State Goal work, we are happy to offer these two Inventories for educators to use with students who have difficulties in the area of communication.

The first tool is the Expressive and Receptive Inventory for Emerging Language Learners. This Inventory has been designed for teams to use with students who have limited communication skills so they can look at skills to target. The Inventory looks at both expressive and receptive communication skills. Teams can use the Inventory to determine priority areas for instruction which can in turn lead to meaningful goal development. To access the Inventory, please visit our website. A webcast has been developed explaining how to use this Inventory.

The second tool is the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Inventory. This Inventory includes a number of pieces that help teams look at the student’s needs and determine a mode(s) of communication that is appropriate to teach that student. The Inventory includes a Feature Analysis that looks at the different needs of the student to help best match them with the system(s) that will meet those needs. To access the Inventory, please visit our website. A webcast has also been developed explaining how to use this Inventory.

For additional information on either of these tools, please contact Selena Layden at


Website Training Updates!

In an effort to make our website easier to navigate, we have added a new and improved training and education section. This section allows users to quickly navigate the vast array of resources that are available through VCU ACE. A drop down menu provides a number of categories of trainings. These are:

Adolescents and Adults
Behavior and Sensory
Comprehensive Autism Planning System
Evidence-Based Practices
Feeding Challenges
Overview of ASD
Paraprofessionals and ASD
School Topics
Screening and Diagnosis
Social Communication
Technology and ASD

Let VCU ACE be your stepping stone to wonderful autism training!


Community Based Skills Assessment Now Available!

The challenges associated with the transition from school services to adulthood for individuals with autism are well documented. Every individual with autism is different and as a result, there is no "one size fits all" plan for the path to adulthood.

The most important factor in creating a plan is to focus on the individual. His or her strengths, needs, challenges and preferences will play a critical role in ensuring a successful transition process. The CSA, developed through a contract with Virginia Commonwealth University's Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, was designed to help parents and professionals assess the current skill levels and abilities of individuals with autism beginning at age 12 and continuing into adulthood in order to develop a comprehensive plan.

The CSA is the first tool to assess needs in the area of community-based living, from transportation to financial management to peer relationships and more. The tool is divided into three levels based upon the age of the individual being assessed. Eight critical areas of functional life skills will be assessed:

  • Career path and employment
  • Self-determination/advocacy
  • Health and safety
  • Peer relationships, socialization and social communication
  • Community participation and personal finance
  • Transportation
  • Leisure/recreation
  • Home living skills

The assessment uses both a criterion-based observation and interview-based process to measure the individual's knowledge, skills and behaviors.

More information:

Click here to download the Community Based Skills Assessment!


New Webcast Schedule Released

Our upcoming schedule of live webcasts was just released!

Progressing Through Transition explores the transitions of middle school, high school and college through the eyes of 19-year-old Justin George. Justin is a young man with autism spectrum disorder. He speaks of the unique challenges and opportunities he has faced.

In Using the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale in VCU ACE Model Classrooms, Dr. Carol Schall presents the APERS pre and posttest data to demonstrate the change that occurred in classrooms as a result of its use. In addition, she discusses the APERS tool and how it can be useful to other divisions wishing to use it as a standard program evaluation tool.

Lori Ernsperger, Ph.D. delves into the often ignored topic of girls with autism in her webcast series, Girls Under the Umbrella of ASD. In her first webcast, Diagnosis and Gender Differences, Ernsperger explores why girls are often undiagnosed or fail to receive appropriate services upon diagnosis. In her second webcast, Interventions and Practical Strategies Across the Life Span, she provides effective interventions and strategies for addressing specific issues which include friendship making, social communication skills, hygiene, personal safety, and self-determination skills.

Elizabeth Getzel provides the results of a study on the career planning experiences and overall college experiences of students on the Autism Spectrum in her webcast, In Their Own Words: The Career Planning Experiences of College Students with ASD.

These are just some of the upcoming webcasts. Check them all out on our Upcoming Webcasts page.


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