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Archived News: Across Virginia
May 2013

Parent Perspective Survey Launched by Center for Systems Change

General Information about the survey:
Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are faced with an overwhelming number of choices related to their children’s care. Many parents report using a variety of treatments to find that perfect combination that will help their child. To learn more about the types of interventions families are using, the Center for Systems Change created the Parent Perspectives Survey. This survey asks parents about what interventions their children are currently using or have used in the past. For popular types of interventions (e.g., behavioral interventions, biomedical interventions, and therapies) the survey asks about the ease of using the interventions, how well they worked, and the level of family-centered care provided. Finally, the survey asks parents about their child’s overall progress and general experiences of being a parent of a child with ASD. All parents of children with ASD at any age are welcome to fill out the survey.

Click here to visit the Center for Systems Change website and to access the survey.


Updates on Recent Regional Communities of Learning in Autism (CoLA) Activities!

Regions 1 and 8 CoLA members met in February in Mechanicsville. Highlights of the meeting included the Division Spotlight, where Greensville County Autism Specialists, Marchae Cannady and Bridget Mangrum Brown, shared their experiences using the Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS) model within their school division. The CAPS model was designed by Shawn Henry and Brenda Smith Myles to help teams move from thinking about separate interventions to comprehensive implementation. The CAPS form allows teams to plan for a student across the day and across environments regarding their academic goals, modifications, accommodations, strategies, and data collection. Greensville shared that using this model helped provide consistency across staff members as well as transitions between grade levels and schools. Several participants also brought Ipad Apps to share with the group!

More CoLA News ...The Region 2 CoLA met in Norfolk in February. The Learning Boost on Social Skills Groups was presented by Staci Carr, VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Coordinator. Several members also shared favorite Ipad apps for working with students with ASD in the “APP Smackdown” portion of the meeting. Members of the Region 2 CoLA interested in participating in a supplemental Learning Community on Video Self Modeling will be meeting separately and presenting information learned at upcoming CoLA meetings.

Noel Woolard, VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Associate, also presented on Social Skills Groups when the Region 3 CoLA met in Kilmarnock in February. Noel was able to share about the success of specific elementary social skills groups in the Northern Neck Regional Special Education Program (NNRSEP), where she provides technical assistance and coaching. Several division representatives also shared celebrations and exciting things that are working for students with ASD in their schools.

CoLA Outreach Continues ...When the Region 4 CoLA met in April, the agenda was divided into 2 main topics – information on the VB-MAPP and Training for Paraprofessionals. During introductions, attendees shared not only their names and divisions but also the biggest challenge in regard to educating students with ASD within their division. Several specific areas were identified, which will be used in planning agendas for future meetings. A 6 question quiz was then used to discover what individuals know about the VB-MAPP and how they are using it. During small group discussion afterwards, those with more experience with the VB-MAPP were able to share with those who had less. The final discussion centered on HB325 and how to address/provide the required training for paraprofessionals by September 2014. Several divisions shared ways in which they were approaching education of paraprofessionals including training by division staff, the VCU-ACE online course, and training through private schools and agencies.

A Region 5 CoLA Meeting was held in Staunton in April in conjunction with a VB-MAPP & EBP Training. Amanda Armstrong, Autism Coordinator at the Region 5 TTAC at JMU, and Steven Celmer, VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Associate, introduced participants to four different evidenced-based practices and provided an opportunity to practice them while obtaining feedback on performance. Additionally, data collection and analysis procedures were discussed and relevant materials necessary for accurate collection of data were provided.

VCU-ACE and the TTAC at Virginia Tech hosted the winter 2013 CoLA Meeting for Region 6 at the Greenfield Education Center in Botetourt County in February. This meeting had more than 85% of Region 6 school divisions represented -- What a great turnout! Division leaders in ASD were provided with an introduction to Verbal Behavior and some of the assessment tools that can be used with students. Interest was high in learning more about these instruments and the opportunity to receive additional training and support in learning the VB-MAPP (Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program) was extended to those divisions in attendance. The Division Spotlight offered three divisions the opportunity to share and discuss initiatives underway for students with ASD. Kathleen Wright and Jessica Morris from Montgomery County Schools provided participants with information on their consulting teacher model. This division has multiple teachers who provide support at each school specifically in the area of autism. Paige Callahan, from Salem City Schools, provided information on the documents and process that the division has created for teachers to request resources and support for students with ASD. Julie Baker and Karen Turner, from Botetourt County Schools, provided information on how the division is addressing social skill assessment, planning, and instruction.

The winter 2013 CoLA Meeting for Region 7 was held on April 25th at the SWVA Higher Education Center in Abingdon. During this meeting, division leaders and teachers in ASD had the opportunity to learn about “Data Collection & Analysis - From Goals to Decision-Making.” Participants were engaged in discussion, problem solving, and resource sharing. Attendees left with many resources and tools to share with educators in their divisions. The Division Spotlight featured Jackie Davis from Tazewell County Schools and Whitney Sizemore, a job coach from Goodwill Industries, who shared about how Project SEARCH is being implemented for students from Tazewell County Schools. The presentation was a great opportunity for participants to learn about the process and collaboration that is needed to get such an initiative off the ground. Positive employment experiences and personal skill growth s are being realized for students with disabilities through this initiative.

Regional CoLAs are uniquely designed for division specialists who are working in a leadership capacity in autism. Each school division is encouraged to designate two representatives to attend and participate in their regional CoLA meetings. These are individuals who will be willing to share information learned within their division and to share division work in autism with other COLA participants. Regional participants are also invited to attend an annual conference, where they can network with counterparts from across the state. The 2013 Summer CoLA Institute will be held in Richmond in June. If you have questions or would like more information on the CoLAs, please contact Becky Boswell, VCU-ACE Outreach Coordinator, at


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