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What's New at ACE?

April Is Autism Awareness Month!

Exciting events are happening all over Virginia to promote Autism Awareness in April! Autism Society Affiliates are hanging ribbons of autism awareness in town halls and organizing walks and other events to share information about autism and to show support for individuals with autism and their families. Some individuals are showing their support by wearing blue on April 2nd, World Autism Day. Whatever you do, April is a great month to get involved and to educate those who are not familiar with autism!

VCU-ACE endeavors to help educate and provide resources to support autism awareness every day. Thanks for your help in sharing information about the free family and professional development opportunities VCU-ACE provides to residents of Virginia through online courses, webcasts, seminars, and live trainings. The Resources section of the VCU-ACE website also contains helpful information on a variety of topics for educators and families. In addition, VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Associates are imbedded in public school divisions across the state implementing a division-wide systems change process resulting in improved services at every level of the school division for students with ASD and similar educational needs. For more information on VCU-ACE please visit our website or call us toll-free at 855-711-6987.


Registration Now Open for Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Course

Have you ever had a student with a behavior that interfered in their learning or the learning of others in the classroom? If you have, or if you are just curious about behavior, then this is the course for you. The Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder online course will provide participants with information and strategies to incorporate into their daily activities to proactively support students with ASD demonstrating interfering behaviors. The course begins by addressing the fundamentals of behavior and the relationship of behavior to the core deficits of ASD. Once learners have a solid understanding of how and why behavior develops they will explore and break down the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) process. Learners will navigate their way through the process learning to define behaviors, observe behaviors, and develop a hypothesis statement about the behavior. Participants will then investigate strategies that can be used when developing a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) for students with ASD.

Throughout the course, learners will follow three individuals with ASD who demonstrate behaviors by completing Think about It! and Apply It! activities. These activities will provide the learner an opportunity to apply the information they are learning in the course. Upon completion of the activities in the course, including a quiz to assess acquired knowledge, the learner will receive a Certificate of Completion. The next course starts August 18th and registration is open now on the VCU-ACE website. Be sure to register early to guarantee yourself a spot in this valuable course!


News from the PARAPro Project!

VCU-ACE has been busy training paraprofessionals across Virginia! Over 4,000 people have completed the VCU-ACE online course, Autism Spectrum Disorder for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports, since it was launched in April 2012. This course meets the requirements of the Training Standards from the Virginia Department of Education that were initiated by House Bill 325. HB 325 requires that by September 1, 2014, paraprofessionals assigned to work with a teacher who has primary oversight of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) receive training aligned with the Training Standards from the VDOE.

The VCU-ACE online course includes five modules that cover topics including: Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dignity and Respect, Social and Communication Strategies, Instructional Strategies, and Behavior Intervention. The online course runs on a monthly basis and registration for July and August is now open. If you are a paraprofessional in a Virginia public school and wish to receive this training, register now and don’t delay! With September 2014 coming soon, we anticipate continued high registration numbers and the courses will fill quickly. For more information and to register, please visit the VCU-ACE website.


Don’t Miss the VCU-ACE April Webcast - My Journey to Self-determination by Tori Saylor!

Please note the change in the air date of this special webcast! Register now and tune in on Tuesday, April 8th at 3:30pm to hear Tori share the struggles, triumphs, and tools she used to survive each day as a person living with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). This webcast allows for an opportunity to walk a mile in her shoes as she journeys through life from childhood to adulthood. Tori's message will leave you curious, motivated, and with a heightened awareness of ASD. Just when you think you know all about ASD, Tori's story may surprise you! If you miss the webcast when it airs, remember you can find this and all previously aired VCU-ACE webcasts on the Archived Webcasts page of our website.


Check Out the VCU-ACE Factsheets and Briefs!

VCU-ACE has developed numerous Factsheets and Briefs on a variety of topics, which may be helpful to individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals who support them. Our newest Factsheet, Autism Q and A: Just the Facts: The DSM-5 and Autism Spectrum Disorder, provides information on the new definition of autism spectrum disorder as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5.) The DSM-5 is a manual clinicians and researchers use to classify and diagnose disorders. To view this and all of the VCU-ACE Factsheets and Briefs, please visit the Resources page on our website!


Paul Wehman to Receive Princeton Lecture Series Fellowship

Dr. Paul Wehman is the Director for Virginia Commonwealth University's Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC). He is a researcher and advocate dedicated to the hiring, advancement, and retention of individuals with significant disabilities in competitive employment.

He is the principal investigator of the NIDRR-funded project on Facilitating Employment for Youth with Autism: A Replication Study of an Internship Model to Identify Evidence-Based Practices and the recently completed project on Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Wehman will receive the 2014 Eden Autism Services' Princeton Lecture Series Fellowship Award.

The Eden Autism Services Lecture Series' mission is to inspire growth in the views of medical professionals. Improving the quality of life for people with autism and their families is an essential topic that the Eden Series addresses throughout their year round educational outreach service programs. The award recognizes Dr. Wehman's career in the field of autism research.


VCU-ACE Accepts 6 Divisions for Cohort 2!

Spring is right around the corner, the season of growth and change. As the VCU-ACE Technical Assistance team celebrates the accomplishments and growth of the Cohort 1 divisions, we prepare for the accepted divisions of Cohort 2.

We thank the 21 divisions who submitted thoughtful applications with a clear dedication to improving services for students with autism. Each application was carefully screened for completeness and scored using a qualitative rubric assessment. The divisions that were chosen received an average score of 94 out of 100; the quality of the applications submitted were exceptional. We want to thank everyone who applied to be in the cohort. We were impressed with the effort and thought evident in each application. Our only regret is that we could only choose six of the 21 deserving school divisions.

We are pleased to announce the 2014-2017 Cohort 2 ACE Technical Assistance School Divisions:

Alexandria City Public Schools

Bedford County Public Schools

Chesapeake County Public Schools

Franklin County Public Schools

Spotsylvania County Public Schools

Warren County Public Schools

We look forward to developing new relationships with these six divisions, while providing follow-along support to our current cohort one divisions.


Cozy up in a Cohort: A New Approach to Professional Development

Are you looking for ways to provide professional development to staff at little to no cost? VCU-ACE can help! We know with busy schedules and budget constraints, finding resources for training can often be difficult. So, we have made three of our online courses available for cohort registration for school divisions.

A cohort is a group of 20-30 educators or related personnel from the same school division who are placed together in a course group with an instructor from the division. The group goes through the course together but manages the coursework on their own time and at their own pace within the course’s 4 or 5-week time frame. The instructor from the division supports and guides the participants as they complete the course, and ensures participants fulfill all requirements of the course. More importantly, they assist with building knowledge and skills by leading participants through discussion groups, analyzing case studies, and answering content related questions. This is an excellent opportunity to ensure participants are embedding the course content into their daily job tasks. The process for cohort participation is easy. Here are some ways to get started:

1. Visit the VCU-ACE website and choose a course in which your division is interested. Current options are: Evidence-based Practices to Teach Students with ASD, Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Be sure to also check the course schedule to determine when the course is offered.

2. Pick a division instructor! This person will be the contact for VCU-ACE and the support to the participants. The instructor will be responsible for ensuring participants’ completion of the course, maintaining regular contact with the VCU-ACE course facilitator,
guiding participants through learning activities, and being available to educators taking the course as needed. More information will be provided regarding roles and responsibilities of the division instructor prior to the start of the course.

3. The division instructor or representative then contacts Taryn Goodwin at to determine availability of the cohort option with the particular course and scheduled course date of interest. Please be aware that cohort options are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis by course and spots fill up quickly!

4. Once you have approval that the desired course and course date is available for your division, start a sign up list! To participate as a cohort, you must be able to register between 20 to 30 staff members. This can include anyone in the division – special educators, general educators, administrators, resource staff, therapists, social workers, etc. And then let the learning begin!

For additional information on how to get started, please contact Taryn Goodwin at


New Information Just Added to the VCU-ACE Resource Pages!!

Check out the updated Research and Articles sections on each of the Resource pages on the VCU-ACE website! VCU-ACE has identified and summarized relevant and recent research articles in each category. Click on the link in the title of the article to review a summary of the article and the research findings. The citations are also included so that you can locate and read the articles in their entirety if you want additional information. And don’t forget to regularly visit the home page of the VCU-ACE as we are constantly adding the newest information in the field to the Research and Interventioncolumn. Happy Reading!


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