October 1, 2014

Chesapeake Makes Great Strides

The Chesapeake Autism Service Improvement Team (ASIT) worked hard all summer developing their SIP (Service Improvement Plan) goals and looking deeply at where they are now and where they want to be in 5 to 7 years. As we move into the fall much has been accomplished to lay the groundwork for goal progress. Target classrooms have been identified for intensive assessment, coaching and training initiatives are in place for the 2014-2015 school year. Coaches have been identified and Coaches’ training will take place on October 17, 2014. Subcommittees have been formed to serve as research and development teams for each of the 4 goal areas. Finally APERS (Autism Program Environment Rating Scale) assessments are planned for the target classrooms to begin this process. This team enjoys mixing pleasure with work! We have held planning meetings at fun and interesting venues – the Ocean View Fishing Pier, a member’s living room with an extensive lunch buffet, and a local library/café.

Chesapeake’s team members continue to evaluate their current infrastructures at the ground level, as well as the administrative level to strengthen our work on various initiatives. The team is dedicated to creating sustainable change in their division to support their teachers and increase student outcomes in communication, social skills, and transition.

Make Improving Goal Mastery Your Goal!

A reminder that VCU-ACE offers a self-paced online course, Improving Goal Mastery through Data-Based Decision-Making! This course, developed in collaboration with Grafton Integrated Health Network, provides a structured and systematic approach to developing, implementing, and monitoring goals and objectives written for students with ASD.

There are many strategies for instruction and intervention with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to teach skills needed to lead independent, productive, and happy lives; yet, these practices are often implemented without carefully monitoring the effectiveness of instruction. In this course, a structured and systematic approach to developing, implementing, and monitoring goals and objectives written for students with ASD is provided. The course begins by outlining how to write objective and measurable goals that will allow educators to determine whether a student is making adequate progress. Next, an overview of data collection, including types and purposes of data, is provided. The final section describes how to graph data and use graphs to make informed decisions. A focus is placed on regularly reviewing student performance on goals and objectives and making person-centered changes in approaches when needed to facilitate progress.

Register now
to take advantage of this great self-paced learning opportunity.

Using the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale in VCU ACE Model Classrooms

VCU ACE has been providing embedded technical assistance in 12 school divisions to assist them in improving their programing for students with ASD. In this project, the Technical Assistance division of VCU ACE used the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS) as a measure of program quality and a standard for classrooms to model. In this webcast, we present the APERS pre and posttest data to demonstrate the change that occurred in classrooms as a result of its use. In addition, we will discuss the APERS tool and how it can be useful to other divisions wishing to use it as a standard program evaluation tool. Finally we will discuss how some school divisions have used the APERS to increase teacher skill in the classroom.

The speaker for this webcast is Dr. Carol Schall, director of the Virginia Autism Resource Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. The webcast will air Wednesday, October 8th at 3:30 pm. Register now for this opportunity!

Explore ASD Seminar Series

Recently there have been many additions to the Explore ASD Seminar Series on the VCU-ACE website. The Explore ASD Series contains seminars that provide a narrow focus of information on topics important to educators, families, individuals with ASD, other professionals, and community members. These presentations are approximately 30-40 minutes long and are detailed enough to provide a quick overview or review of information.

Current topics include:
Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Environmental Structure and Visual Supports
The Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS)
Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder and Employment

Make the most of your training time with these helpful seminars!

October is Disability Awareness Month

October is National Disability Awareness Month! As we consider the impact of disabilities (both ASD and other disabilities) on the lives of millions of Americans, we should take time to reflect on their statements and points of view. Spend a bit of time listening to those with disabilities in their own words through the VCU-ACE website.

Tori Saylor’s My Journey to Self-Determination is a touching view of the strength of one young women with autism spectrum disorder. Tori’s hope is that someday society's perspective of all disabilities is one that includes open minds, equality and acceptance.

Justin George’s Progressing Through Transition highlights the challenges and successes he had while transitioning from middle school, to high school and now on to college. Pursuing a certificate in legal office technology, he hopes to continue advocate for others.

Sam and Bradford Hulcher’s An Extra Ordinary Life: Using Person Centered Planning focuses on the lifelong plan set in place for Sam’s life. Sam and his mom, Bradford, will share Sam's journey and some of the tools used to facilitate the path to an "extra" ordinary life for him.

Reflect upon the extraordinary lives of these individuals with disabilities this month.