What's New at ACE?

Creating opportunities for autism students in Richmond

VCU SOE emerging scholar connects research with policy advocacy. VCU's Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) and Research to Policy Advocacy are just a few organizations that VCU School of Education student Holly Whittenburg has been involved with this past year as an emerging scholar. Whittenburg is a third-year, part-time, Ph.D. student in the special education and disability leadership track. Her research interests are focused on work-based interventions for transition-aged students with autism. Whittenburg worked with RRTC and VCU’s Autism Center for Excellence (ACE) when she was a special education coordinator with Hampton City Schools.

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National Autism Center Publishes Phase 2 of National Standards

The National Autism Center has released the report Findings and Conclusions: National Standards Project, Phase 2. This update is a systematic review which identifies research-based interventions for individuals with ASD across the lifespan. This project is designed to help parents and professionals make informed choices about what interventions will be best for individuals with ASD.

Click here to read the report.

Click here to watch a video about the project.


Mercyhurst Conference on Autism in Higher Education

November 1-2: Bayfront Convention Center

The Conference on Autism in Higher Education is presented by Mercyhurst University and features many national leaders, authors, advocates and coordinators in the field of autism and specifically in higher education and vocational readiness. Mercyhurst’s collaboration with many of these individuals has helped to propel the AIM program to be recognized as one of the nation's leading programs for college readiness and vocational training to assist students in obtaining meaningful employment.

The primary purpose of this conference is to disseminate information in the spirit of collaboration to continue to enhance the quality or services and resources, especially for adults on the autism spectrum attending college.



Putting PBIS to Work in Real Life (Unrestrained Episode 44)

“Now, of course, real people are complicated. Behaviors don't always fit into these really neat little boxes like I'm describing,” says Cyndi Pitonyak, an expert on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and guest of this month’s episode of Unrestrained. She also has over 30 years of experience in primary and secondary education, so she’s seen many of those behaviors that educators and school staff encounter every day—the ones that don’t fit into those neat little boxes. As she pointed out during our conversation, kids who have chronic behavioral difficulties are really a normal part of any natural school population. “It's part of our job in schools to teach those kids and to address those issues,” said Cyndi. “And one way to look at it is that these kids, kids who have chronic issues with behavior, are going to take up your time anyway.”

Click here to read the full article.


Guidelines for Conducting Functional Behavioral Assessment

The Virginia Department of Education recently released Guidelines for Conducting Functional Behavioral Assessment and Developing Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports/Strategies. These guidelines contain practice recommendations based on Applied Behavior Analysis methodology. The interventions are recommended for use for behaviors that interfere with learning. Click here to download and review these guidelines.


New Communication Tools

VCU-ACE is excited to offer two new tools for educators working on communication skills with their students! In addition to our other resources and information on Communication developed through our State Goal work, we are happy to offer these two Inventories for educators to use with students who have difficulties in the area of communication.

The first tool is the Expressive and Receptive Inventory for Emerging Language Learners. This Inventory has been designed for teams to use with students who have limited communication skills so they can look at skills to target. The Inventory looks at both expressive and receptive communication skills. Teams can use the Inventory to determine priority areas for instruction which can in turn lead to meaningful goal development. To access the Inventory, please visit our website. A webcast has been developed explaining how to use this Inventory.

The second tool is the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Inventory. This Inventory includes a number of pieces that help teams look at the student’s needs and determine a mode(s) of communication that is appropriate to teach that student. The Inventory includes a Feature Analysis that looks at the different needs of the student to help best match them with the system(s) that will meet those needs. To access the Inventory, please visit our website. A webcast has also been developed explaining how to use this Inventory.

For additional information on either of these tools, please contact Selena Layden at smjoy@vcu.edu.


How To Video Series

The VCU-ACE How To Series demonstrates evidence-based practices for students with ASD. These short videos are approximately five minutes and are intended to provide a quick look at implementing particular strategies. The How To videos provide a short description of the topic with real life video examples of how to implement the evidence-based practice in the classroom with students with ASD. More How To videos will continue to be added so please check back often!