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October 8, 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.


VCU-ACE Participates at Early Intervention Workshop in Blacksburg

On October 3, 2012, Taryn Goodwin, VCU-ACE Training Associate, and Dana Childress, Program Specialist at the VCU-Partnership for People with Disabilities, presented at the “Getting Babies Ready for the Future” 2012 Early Intervention Conference in Blacksburg, Virginia. The presentation addressed an overview of ASD, proactive strategies for supporting young children, and communication strategies for young children. The conference was attended by parents, general educators, and early intervention and other related service providers. This was the second EI conference sponsored by Autism Training Opportunities of Southwest VA. 

You Still Have Time – Register NOW for Insight 2012!!

VCU-ACE is honored to be collaborating with the VDOE TTAC at VCU and the Autism Society – Central VA to bring Brenda Smith Myles to Richmond for Insight 2012!! On Friday, October 19, Brenda will be presenting from 9am to 4pm at the Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown. The morning session will be on Strategies and Supports to Address the Hidden Curriculum and in the afternoon Brenda will address Strategies for Students with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome Who Experience Difficult Moments. The Autism Society – Central VA will provide a bookstore at the conference and Brenda’s books will be available! The cost for the Friday workshop is only $65.00 per person.  Please click here for more information on Insight 2012 and register online by October 15, 2012!

ACE Training News!

Don’t Miss the October Webcast – “A Successful Employment Experience for Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome: What it Takes”

As a follow-up to our summer series on transition to adulthood and workplace considerations, Peter Skirbunt, Ph.D, and Tamara Eastman, B.A., will discuss their experiences in establishing and maintaining successful employment for a person with Asperger’s Syndrome. Tamara Eastman is a published historian specializing in the research area of female pirates. Tamara will discuss her successes and triumphs as they relate to her education and employment experiences. Peter Skirbunt is the Chief Historian for the Defense Commissary Agency at Fort Lee. Dr. Skirbunt will share details about his role as a “coach” in the workplace for Ms. Eastman. The dynamics of their relationship will be explored in an interview presentation on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 from 3:30-4:30pmRegister Now to view this webcast live, to access it at a later date from the ACE webcast archives, or to save time and register for the entire 2012-2013 Webcast Series!

PARAPro Information

Registration is currently open for the January session of the VCU-ACE online course for Paraprofessionals -- "Autism Spectrum Disorders for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports."  Space is limited, so please register soon if interested.  Just a reminder -- The Paraprofessional Course will not be offered in the month of December, 2012.


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.

From the Technical Assistance Division...

Here’s What’s Happening in our Tidewater Regions …

On September 27 & 28, 2012, Autism Services Improvement Team (ASIT) members from Hampton City Public Schools, Newport News Public Schools, and the Northern Neck Regional Special Education Program met to review each teams Service Improvement Plan (SIP). Team members reviewed the activities and work that has been accomplished since April 2011 and discussed successes and challenges they have encountered thus far. Holly Whittenburg and Kelly Siegel, Hampton City Public Schools ASIT core members, remarked, “The tools our team used from strategic planning helped us to focus and redefine our Service Improvement Plan. What a great planning session! We really feel like we are moving in the right direction.” Carol Schall, VCU-ACE Director of Technical Assistance was enthusiastic in response to the fall meetings, “This was a wonderful opportunity to observe how much these divisions have accomplished so far. There are signs of change at every school level and at the division wide level as well!”

Dr. Schall and Staci Carr assisted VCU-ACE TA Associates Noel Woolard and Charlene Wentland in working with these three divisions. Noel Woolard, TA Associate in Hampton and the Northern Neck Regional Program, offered her thoughts on the ASIT planning, “This was a perfect time of year to engage in strategic planning at this level. Hampton City and the Northern Neck Regional Special Education Program are energized are now ready for a very productive year!” All ASIT teams working with VCU-ACE will be meeting throughout the year for strategic planning to outline activities for the next two years.