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Archived News: Across Virginia
August 2013

Virginia’s Annual Conference for Early Intervention Providers - A Great Learning Experience!

The Creating Connections to Shining Stars (CCSS) Conference was held July 22-24 in Virginia Beach. This conference is a collaborative effort between many state agencies and early childhood programs in Virginia. CCSC focuses on promoting and supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices in inclusive settings for young children. The Communities of Practice in Autism (CoPAs) sponsored a half day with Rebecca Landa, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, founder and director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) and the REACH research program at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Dr. Landa presented on Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Early Achievements Intervention Approach.

VCU-ACE was also pleased to be a part of the conference. Dr. Dawn Hendricks presented two sessions. The first titled, Overview of the Autism Insurance Mandate: Providing Applied Behavior Analysis to Children with ASD, delivered information to Early Intervention providers about the newly implemented insurance mandate. This mandate requires insurance companies to provide a number of services, including applied behavior analysis, to children with ASD ages 2-6. The second session was titled, It’s about More than Cookies: Enhancing Communication in All Children with ASD. This session provided information on resources VCU-ACE is developing to enhance the communication capabilities of all students with ASD. The resources are designed to assist educational teams in identifying communication goals as well as modalities that will result in continued growth and result in individuals who are effective communicators across environments and partners.


A Multi-Faceted Approach to Paraprofessional Training Finds Success in Botetourt County!

Paraprofessional training is a crucial part of a division-wide professional development plan. In April 2012, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 325 which requires that by September 2014, paraprofessionals who are assigned to work with a teacher who has primary oversight of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) receive training in student behavioral management within 60 days of assignment to such responsibility.

In response to HB 325, Botetourt County Public Schools (BCPS) looked at arranging for meaningful professional development for the paraprofessionals in their division. The division created a multi-faceted approach that included training in characteristics of autism spectrum disorder and instructional skills appropriate for paraprofessionals. BCPS laid the foundation of skills by having paraprofessionals take the VCU-ACE online course Autism Spectrum Disorders for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports. In addition, BCPS collaborated with VCU-ACE to have their own staff trained to serve as instructors for their groups of paraprofessionals. By doing this, the entire staff of BCPS paraprofessionals was able to receive training over three months and enjoy the benefits of having instructors who were familiar with the students with whom they worked each day.

In addition to the online course, BCPS also promoted a learning experience between the paraprofessionals and their supervising case managers. The VCU-ACE course provides supplemental activities and materials designed to promote communication between paraprofessionals and their supervisory teachers as well as application of skills. BCPS arranged for supervising case managers to receive recertification points if they completed the activities with their paraprofessionals. In this way, staff developed their skills and knowledge as a team, leading to better support for students.

Finally, BCPS plans to provide live trainings to both their paraprofessionals and supervising case managers this fall around topics that build off of the VCU-ACE online course, covering areas related to effective supervisory skills for case managers and more advanced skills in behavior intervention. Feedback from those participating in this professional development experience has been very positive. BCPS is looking forward to assessing the impact of the professional development model in the coming school year and building upon these successes as the division continues to create effective teams to serve their students with autism spectrum disorder.


Newport News Autism Coaches and Teachers Share Information on EBPs to the Division’s Special Education Advisory Committee!

Newport News autism coaches, Kasey Reed, Teresa Crowson, Stefanie Paul, Carol Hughes, and Kim Keith, along with autism teacher, Marlon Hooker, presented to the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) of Newport News Public Schools on May 28, 2013. Their presentation centered on specific evidence-based practices (EBPs) that have been coached and highlighted in division self-contained classroom settings (grades K-12) since fall 2012. The group introduced and defined evidence-based practices, described how instructional practices become “evidence-based,” and who makes the determination. Each coach/teacher illustrated a targeted practice used in their particular classroom using slides, photos, examples, and videos of students engaged in EBPs. Highlighted EBPs included: Picture Exchange, social narratives, Errorless Teaching, video modeling, visual supports for behavior, self-monitoring, reinforcement, communication, antecedent based interventions, speech generative devices/VOCA, and various reinforcement systems. After the individual presentations, SEAC members were treated to an impressive video montage of students engaging in EBPs created by Teresa Crowson, OTR.


Eastern VA Medical School Recruiting Volunteers for a New Study!

The Eastern VA Medical School (EVMS) is currently recruiting volunteers to participate in a study for a new investigational treatment for emotion regulation in Autism Spectrum Disorders. This research study is sponsored by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. Participants must meet ALL of the the following: 1) be healthy young adults between the age of 12 and 25, 2) have a diagnosis of ASD, and 3) have been on stable medication for at least 4 weeks. There is no cost to participate in this study. For more information, please call 757-446-5176.


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