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Archived News: Across Virginia
April 2011

Partners in Policymaking accepting applications now for the 2011-2012 year!

The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities’ Partners in Policymaking participants are people who live in Virginia, have a developmental disability or are parents of young children with developmental disabilities.
Individuals participating in PIP attend advocacy training, resource development, and skill building workshops led by state and national experts. Topics covered include the history of the disability movement, self advocacy, independent living, supported employment, building inclusive communities, natural supports, legislative advocacy, assistive technology, communication, team building, and much more!

VBPD covers all expenses for participants’ training, lodging, meals, and travel.
Program participants attend and actively participate in eight two-day sessions, from Friday afternoon and to late Saturday afternoon, in Richmond, Virginia. An overview of the program and the schedule for the current year are available on their website.

The deadline for applications is April 29, 2011 at 5pm.

More information:

Partners in Policymaking


Dr. Gina Green presenting on “Evidenced-based Practice in ASD,” Thursday April 28, 2011 in Charlottesville.

Researcher and author Dr. Gina Green will be presenting a lecture titled, “Evidence-based Practice in Autism Spectrum Disorders” on Thursday, April 28, 2011 from 5:30-6:30 pm at St. Anne's-Belfield Greenway Rise Campus, Randolph Hall Auditorium. Sponsored by the Virginia Institute of Autism and the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center, this talk is the first in a series that explores a variety of autism-related topics. This series is free of charge and open to the public but registration is required. BACB continue education credits will be available. To register go to or call 434-923-8252.

More information:

VIA Speaker Series


Learn more about the Play Labs at University of Mary Washington!

The University of Mary Washington is hosting their second Play Lab this semester. At the Play Lab, current and pre-service teachers (both undergraduate and graduate) can opt to take an elective course (approved by the Virginia Autism Council) where they learn disability characteristics, teaching strategies, and research-based supports for children with ASD and related disabilities. Halfway through the semester, UMW students run the Play Lab which meets for 7 weeks. UMW students work one on one with the children with disabilities under faculty and community agency supervision. This semester, the Play Lab has 21 children (with and without disabilities) and 19 UMW students participating. The focus has been on TEACCH, Handwriting without Tears, and the Model Me Kids Social Skills. At the end of each session, the UMW students train the parents in the strategies that have been helpful in working with the children and parents receive resources to help support their child at home, school, and in the community. Reactions to the Play Lab have been overwhelmingly positive. After a break for the summer, Play Lab will start again this coming fall. UMW Play Lab is a non-profit organization managed through the UMW Foundation and is coordinated by Dr. Nicole Myers at UMW and Heather DeCou, M.Ed., LPC, of Exceptional Support Services of Fredericksburg. For more information, email:

More information:

UMW Play Lab Blog


UVA Researchers study the use of driving simulators to teach driving to teens with ASD

Researchers at the University of Virginia, Dr. Ronald Reeve and Dr. Daniel Cox have received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study the use of virtual reality driving simulators to train and evaluate the driving skills of teens with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism, both of which are considered autism spectrum disorders. The study expects to report its findings by the summer of 2012.

More information:

Curry School of Education News


Commonwealth Autism Service Diagnostic and Assessment Clinic holds Open House and Ribbon Cutting!

Commonwealth Autism Services (CAS) celebrated the opening of a new facility for their Transdisciplinary Diagnostic and Assessment Clinic with an Open House and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Over 60 people were in attendance! The facility is located on the campus of United Methodist Family Services. A transdisciplinary team, led by Dr. Donald Oswald, has helped over 300 children since it began in 1998. Currently they see approximately 50 children per year. They also welcome over 100 students and community practitioners in an effort to increase autism assessment awareness. Check out what they have to offer!

More information:

CAS Transdisciplinary Diagnostic and Assessment Clinic website


A Panel Discussion on the challenges facing young people with Asperger’s in post-secondary education scheduled to air on WCVE Public Radio, May 1 at 6pm.

On Monday, April 18, WCVE Public Radio, in conjunction with Commonwealth Autism Service, taped a panel discussion on autism in front of a live audience at our Richmond studio. The panelists for this discussion included Erik Laursen, Ph.D., VP, Learning and Program Development at Charterhouse School (UMFS), Donald Oswald, Ph.D., Director of Research and Diagnostics at Commonwealth Autism Service, John A. Toscano, MSW, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth Autism Service, and a student with Asperger’s Syndrome as they discuss both the challenges facing young people with Asperger’s Syndrome in post-secondary education and the unique program they’ve developed within their partnership.

The forum was broadcast on WCVE Forum May 1 at 6:00 pm. The archived broadcast can be heard here.

Developed by a partnership between Charterhouse School and Commonwealth Autism Services, Courage to Succeed was created to attempt to fill the gap in services for older youth. It will provide academic, social, and independent life skill supports to students with Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism as they attend J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. The twelve students will take a redcued course load at JSRCC, with the prospect of earning an Associate’s degree in three years. The students would receive both before- and after-school support through classes to be held at Charterhouse.

More information:

Courage to Succeed Website


GMU presents a two day workshop on Precision Teaching by Dr. Rick Kubina, April 18 and 19.

Rick Kubina, Ph.D., BCBA-D will provide a two day workshop at George Mason University on the subject of behavioral fluency - what it is, why it is important, and how to achieve it. Standard Celeration Charting – how to use them and how to interpret them will also be discussed.

More information:

Workshop Flyer


Join Pyrmaid Educational Consultants for a PECS Basic Training in Roanoke, April 18 and 19.

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is used to rapidly teach communication skills to those with limited functional speech. PECS promotes communication within a social context, without lengthy prerequisite training. Training in PECS begins by teaching a spontaneous request and goes on to teach additional communicative functions such as responding to questions and commenting. An added attraction for preschool children with autism and related disabilities is the high proportion of children who acquire independent speech. Participants will learn how to implement the six phases of PECS, plus attributes, through presenter demonstrations, video examples and role-play opportunities. Participants will leave the workshop with an understanding of how to implement PECS with individuals with autism, related developmental disabilities, and/or limited communication skills.

More information:

Pyarmid Educational Consultants Website


Autism in the News at the State Capital

March has been a busy month in the world of autism legislation in the Commonwealth!

On March 28th, the governor signed SB 1269, creating an Autism Advisory Council in the legislative branch of the government. The goals of the Council are to improve coordination of services and resources among agencies who serve individuals with ASD, as well as to increase public awareness of such services and resources. Click here for details on SB 1269.

The General Assembly approved four out of five of the governor’s proposed amendments to HB 2467. This bill would require health insurers to pay up to $35,000 for specialized therapies for children ages 2-6 with autism. If passed, Virginia would be the 25th state to pass such legislation.

More information:

Details on HB 2467


Prevalence of Autism within Virginia Schools Continues to Rise

Based on preliminary data from the Virginia Department of Education, the number of students identified with a primary disability of autism in schools across the Commonwealth has increased by 16% between the 2009-2010 school year and the 2010-2011 school year. This data is pending final certification.


Learn More about Coursework in ASD across the Commonwealth

Students at Colleges and Universities across the Commonwealth are registering now for summer and fall courses. Did you know that several of these institutions of higher learning also offer certificate programs in autism? Those colleges and universities whose coursework have been approved by the Virginia Autism Council to be aligned with the Skill Competencies for Paraprofessionals and Professionals Serving Individuals with Autism across the Lifespan can be found on the VAC website.

More information:

VAC Website


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