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New Resources Available on the VCU-ACE Website!

New Online Seminars

VCU-ACE is launching a series of Online Seminars! Using your computer, you can participate in a 30-60 minute video presentation on a variety of topics related to ASD including evidence based strategies and supports. Online seminars are appropriate for anyone who wants to learn more about ASD and how to provide appropriate supports and can be viewed at a time that is convenient for you. Online seminars are free to Virginia residents. 

Seminar Webpage

New Factsheets

One of the many online resources available through VCU-ACE are Factsheets.  These Factsheets give an overview of specific topics related to ASD and evidence-based practices.  Two new Factsheets can now be found online.  One on Positive Behavior Supports and one on Positive Behavior Support Plans.  Check them out!


Diagnostic and Evaluation Taskforce Meets to Develop Strategic Plans

On Wednesday, June 1, the Diagnostic and Evaluation Taskforce met to develop strategic plans to further explore and improve the screening and diagnostic process for individuals with ASD in Virginia. The Taskforce is comprised of pediatricians, educators, parents, and other professionals from a variety of disciplines and is committed to lowering the age of diagnosis of ASD in Virginia and bridging the gap between the educational and medical professions. Three subcommittees were established and worked to develop individual plans to research and explore the current practices in Virginia to make recommendations for future practice in screening, diagnosis and systems change. The subcommittee for Screening is led by Dr. Maria Urbano and co- led by Staci Carr from VCU-ACE. The Diagnostic subcommittee is led by Dr. Donald Oswald and co-led by Dr. Dawn Hendricks of VCU-ACE. Finally, the Systems Change subcommittee is led by Dr. Heather Applegate and co-led by Joy Engstrom of VCU-ACE.

The subcommittees developed work plans that will be carried out over the summer months to answer questions in each area of concern. Following the collection of data, each subcommittee will produce a written summary that will be included in a white paper to be presented to the Virginia Department of Education and Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS). The paper will include concrete recommendations to lower the age of diagnosis, improve screening practices among medical professionals, increase awareness of ASD, and to bridge the gap between educational and medical professions.

Sign up for our June 14 Webcast on Research Based Intervention with Sam Odom

Sam Odom will present a webcast on June 14 at 3:30pm “Research Based Intervention: Ensuring Program Quality for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder."  It is critical for parents and professionals serving someone with ASD to utilize practices determined to be effective through research. This webcast will provide a comprehensive description of evidence-based practices for individuals with ASD. Dr. Odom will provide a definition and describe how a practice is determined to be evidence-based. A review of the current literature in ASD will be provided and those strategies currently identified as evidence-based will be discussed. Further, Dr. Odom will talk about components of a quality program for students with ASD and outline contextual features that represent best practice. A focus will be placed on the findings of the National Autism Professional Development Center in ASD and the National Standards Project. A variety of resources on evidence-based practices will be shared.

Webcast Information

Missed a webcast?  Check out our archives!  Webcasts on Social Competence, Assistive Technology, Communication Development and much more!

Archived Webcasts

NPDC Sites Continue to Improve and Engage in Training Opportunities

The National Professional Development Center (NPDC) on Autism Spectrum Disorders is a collaborative effort between FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the M.I.N.D. Institute at University of California at Davis Medical School, and the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   The purpose of the NPDC is to determine and research evidence-based practices (EBP) in the field of education for students with ASD.  The NPDC Model Site project was established to examine how best to build EBP capacity within classrooms by utilizing current research on EBP as well as through the implementation of a coaching model and goal attainment scaling.  Model site staff receive intensive training on the foundations of autism, treatment and education strategies as well as technical assistance to implement such practices within their classrooms.  The project conducts a pre-participation and post-participation assessment tool to determine outcomes.  Loudon County, Wise County, and Richmond City have been participating as model sites for NPDC training and implementation of EBP.  The NPDC model sites in Hampton and Newport News will send their involved staff to the NPDC/TTAC/ACE summer institute in July to  enhance their knowledge of evidence-based practices, goal attainment scaling, and effective coaching practices. 

An Update from the Technical Assistance Division of ACE

School divisions were selected in early spring through a competitive application process to receive embeded support, goal and strategy development, and training.  The selected divisions are: Botetourt County Public Schools, Wise County Public Schools, Arlington Public Schools, Henrico County Public Schools, Richmond City Public Schools, Northern Neck Regional Program (Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond County, Town of Colonial Beach Public Schools), Hampton Public Schools, Newport News Public Schools, and Greensville County Public Schools. 

ACE Staff and Division Autism Services Improvement Teams have spent time in May continuing program and school level assessments of autism services, refining actions steps and timelines on the Services Improvement Plans, as well as planning for and receiving initial rounds of trainings. The ACE Foundations of Autism Course was offered to the participating divisions and many took advantage of this no cost, intensive training opportunity. The teams also have engaged in the online monthly webcasts offered by ACE. The summer will not bring much of a slowdown for ACE nor Division Teams as we prepare for the Summer Institute (July 11-14) and plan for targeted Technical Assistance to begin in the fall.

Registration is Now Open for the Next “Foundations of Autism” Online Course

Registration is now open for the online coursework, “Foundations of Autism.”  This four week online course is free to individuals in the Commonwealth of Virginia and begins again on August 1.  It is designed to provide the participant with an understanding of the primary characteristics of ASD which include impairments in communication and social development and the presence of repetitive patterns of behavior. Related issues, such as secondary characteristics, sensory processing differences, comorbid disabilities, and learning styles are also discussed.  This coursework is limited to 50 participants, so sign up now!

Foundations of Autism

Screening Tool for Infants and Toddlers 12-24 Months of Age Shows Promise in Recent Study

A study published in an April issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, suggests that the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant-Toddler Checklist is a promising screening tool for pediatricians.  In this study, over 10,000 children were screened using this 24-question test as a part of the child’s one year old checkup.  The results are said to be around 75% accurate, offering an efficient and easy way for parents, doctors and caregivers to detect autism at an early age.  Although this tool does not lead to a definitive diagnosis, it will help parents and doctors look carefully at young children in key areas of development, allowing the opportunity for earlier intervention services to begin. 

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