What's New at ACE?
An Update from the VCU-ACE Communication State Goal Committee! Check Out the New Webpages!!
VCU-ACE and our collaborators have been hard at work and making great progress on all three of the identified State Goals: Communication, Administrator Support, and Transition. In recent months, the Communication State Goal Committee has completed and launched new web pages specific to communication and students with ASD. The web pages include information on why it is important to teach communication, what to teach in the area of communication, assessments for communication, modes of communication, functions of communication, and much more. Additional pages will be added as the committee continues to move forward with goal work. Please take a few minutes and visit the new Communication Resource pages on our website to learn more about improving communication skills with students with ASD.
Don’t Miss the Informative VCU-ACE webcasts airing December 2013 – February 2014!!
Details on Upcoming Webcasts:
December 10, 2013
Sexuality Instruction and Learners with ASD by Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D.
On completion of this webcast, participants will be able to:
*Provide an overview of the components of sexuality education.
*Recognize the importance of sexuality education as one component of community safety training.
*Recognize some the challenges to effective sexuality education specific to learners on the autism spectrum.
January 14, 2014
Inclusion: Making the Marriage Work by Barbara Webb, Ed. D.
Our goal in education must be to create a rich educational setting for all children. Special Education was originally designed as a "resource" to educational programs, not as a separate placement. Research indicates that removing children from their typical peers, undermines their capacity to learn the skills that will enable them to belong. Statistics from the CDC show a dramatic rise in autism; therefore, we must prepare our inclusive classrooms to create the educational setting to address the needs of these children. This presentation will discuss the learning differences of children with autism and how to embed specific teaching strategies into the curriculum.
February 11, 2014
Inclusion: Making the Marriage Work - Part 2 by Barbara Webb, Ed. D.
All children are able to learn, just not in the same way. Autism is an information-processing difference that affects: communication, social interaction, sensory response, and learning and thinking. In part 1, we discussed academic strategies for the classroom. This presentation will address strategies for the unstructured time within the school day, environmental supports, social supports, and communication supports. Dr. Webb will also discuss strategies for managing behavioral challenges.
To register for these and additional webcasts, visit the VCU-ACE website. If you are unable to view these or any VCU-ACE webcast on the initial air date, remember all VCU-ACE webcasts are archived for later viewing at your convenience.
VCU-ACE Opens Call for Applications for Technical Assistance in Cohort 2!
The Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE) is currently requesting applications from school divisions who wish to become exemplary sites in the provision of high quality educational services and supports for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Through a competitive review process, VCU-ACE will select four to six Virginia school divisions for Technical Assistance in Cohort 2. Successful applications will demonstrate a clearly defined strategy for long-term systemic changes across the entire school division with a clear understanding and plan for focused work in three key areas: Divisionwide Coaching, Administrative Knowledge and Support, and Fidelity of Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices.
VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Associates will assist selected school divisions in completing a self-assessment and facilitating a divisionwide Autism Services Improvement Team (ASIT) to develop an Autism Services Improvement Plan (ASIP). These plans will provide additional data-based targets and define the exact technical assistance and training activities that will take place in the school division. While school divisions will self define their own plans, VCU-ACE will help guide the development of the plans to result in systems change across the entire age range and ASD spectrum.
School divisions in the Commonwealth of Virginia that were not included in Cohort 1 are eligible to apply for Cohort 2. Evidence must be presented in the application that demonstrates the school division’s capacity for participation as an exemplary autism site. It is expected that applicants will engage in meaningful planning with autism stakeholders in the preparation of the application. A school division must apply as a single entity; combined division applications will not be considered. Regional programs are encouraged to apply, however technical assistance will only address the regional program, not the practice of the cooperating divisions which the regional program serves.
Important Dates to Consider:
Application Available November 1, 2013
Application Due January 15, 2014
Notice of Selection March 1, 2014
Division Assessment March-April, 2014
Duration of Technical Assistance: Three years, as funding is available.
All applications are due on January 15, 2014 by 5 pm.
The entire application is available for review and download on the VCU-ACE website or on the ASD page of the VDOE website. For more information, contact Dr. Carol Schall at firstname.lastname@example.org or Staci Carr at email@example.com.
Check it Out!! New Course Schedules are Now Available for VCU-ACE Online Courses!
The schedules for two VCU-ACE online courses are now available through April 2014! Please check our website for available dates and register soon, as classes fill quickly! Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder are just two of the VCU-ACE online courses available to Virginia residents for FREE! Each course requires participation in a discussion board and successful completion of quizzes at the end of each module. For more information about VCU-ACE online courses, contact Taryn Goodwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VCU-ACE “Train the Trainer” Workshop Helps Divisions Meet Training Standards for Paraprofessionals!
In addition to providing a monthly online course for paraprofessionals and limited live trainings, VCU-ACE has developed a “Train the Trainer” Model Training to help school divisions meet the requirements of H.B. 325 and insure all paraprofessionals receive training on autism spectrum disorder by September 2014. On October 30-31, VCU-ACE provided this 2-day training to twenty participants from across Virginia. This training will allow the participants to provide live paraprofessional training in their divisions using the materials VCU-ACE offers through its online course and live training opportunities. The “Train the Trainer” workshop includes a review of the VCU-ACE paraprofessional training materials, information on adult learning principles, and ways to make the live training more informative and applicable. Those participants who completed the training are now able to provide the live training to the paraprofessionals in their division. These new trainers will also participate in follow up activities with VCU-ACE to ensure fidelity of the training and promote better application of skills for paraprofessionals. For more information on VCU-ACE PARAPro initiatives, visit the VCU-ACE website, or contact Dr. Selena Layden at email@example.com.
Planning for Change in the VCU-ACE Cohort 1 Technical Assistance Divisions!
-- Staci Carr, VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Coordinator
It is hard to believe that the VCU-ACE Technical Assistance project has started its third year with the Cohort 1 divisions. These eight public school divisions and one regional program have made a lot of progress in a little time! As we look back at their progress, much of which has been chronicled here in our E-news, we are reminded of the saying by anthropologist, Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” All of the divisions from this first cohort have lived up to that quote. They have embraced systems change and coaching as a way of changing practice within their divisions. As we enter our “wind-down” year and begin the move from intensive in-division support to the follow-along phase, the divisions have proven to be fully invested in maintaining the goals developed and charging forward to address additional division-wide initiatives to meet the educational needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Realizing the importance of scaffolding and providing ongoing support to these divisions, VCU-ACE has developed a plan to do just that. In year three, every division will engage in a collaborative assessment process and establish plans to continue their work on goals and systems change as the VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Associates (TAAs) fade from their direct work in divisions. VCU-ACE will also provide guided follow-along in years 4 and 5 of the model. In year four, VCU-ACE TAAs will continue to provide guidance to division staff who oversee the project within the division, and will assist in completing fidelity checks and helping the division maintain their efforts to improve services for youth with ASD. By year 5, VCU-ACE TAAs will provide faded support and encouragement to Cohort 1 divisions.
After year 5, these first divisions that were accepted into the VCU-ACE Technical Assistance program become part of a community that will be available for support and problem solving on an ongoing basis. As new cohorts join this community we hope to spread collaboration and consistency across the state.
(VCU-ACE Cohort 1 school divisions are: Arlington, Botetourt, Greensville, Hampton, Henrico, Newport News, Richmond City, Wise County, and the Northern Neck Regional Special Education Program)
Coming Up in the November ENews – Information on Applications for Cohort 2!!