November 5, 2014

Alexandria City Public Schools and ACE: Continuing the Momentum

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) has partnered with ACE as a division in the Cohort 2 Phase of the ACE Embedded Technical Assistance Project. Their application was among the top scorers on the selection rubric. What impressed ACE staff most about this dynamic division was that an Autism Plan had already been in place since 2011. When the ACE-ACPS relationship began last spring, the Autism Team, headed by Dr. Erin Stone, BCBA-D, were revising this comprehensive plan to focus their efforts. The Autism Workgroup in ACPS, which includes parent members, is extremely active and progressive in their desire and advocacy in ensuring students with ASD receive the highest level of quality services. Most of the initiatives on their pre-existing ASD Plan were derived from an exhaustive strategic planning effort by a workgroup made up of school-based staff, administrators, Central Office staff as well as parents. This collaborative process of data collection and task development has resulted in several initial changes and improvements in how programs are evaluated and instruction is delivered throughout this division.

The ACPS parents and autism team recognized that joining forces with ACE would enable them to continue their momentum in accomplishing many of their priority goals. Last May, staff from ACE and ACPS forged ahead with a rigorous data collection process that included staff/parent surveys and a program evaluation tool called the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS). This initial collection of data yielded valuable information about current strengths in different schools as well as areas of need. These need areas were prioritized and the ACE/ACPS team will continue in the coming weeks to further refine the action steps and collect more baseline data across a variety of programs.

The ACPS/ACE Services Improvement Plan was crafted to address four main areas: Classroom supports using Evidence-Based Practices, Boosting Classroom Content, Process Improvements, and Development or Refinement of Coaching. The specific goals are centered on social and communication skills through utilization of a practical planning tool, development and implementation of an ASD specific IEP protocol, and development of coaches across the division for social/communication efforts. The ACPS and ACE team are excited about these focus areas because they address the urgent needs of the ASD population as the division looks towards making every ACPS student “career and education” ready upon graduation.

Increase Your Knowledge of Evidence-Based Practices Through the How To Series

Check out the newest addition to the VCU-ACE website! The 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 a particular strategy. 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. Current How To videos cover a variety of different prompting methods, providing reinforcement and teaching requesting. More How To videos will continue to be added so please visit and bookmark our How To page.

How Do We Make the Transition to College Successful for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

We are conducting a survey on the challenges and strengths of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) related to transition out of high-school and into higher education. We are conducting this study to inform development of a new transition support program.

Participation involves completion of a brief, anonymous online survey. We are enrolling three groups of participants: (1) young people with ASD (between 16 and 25 years of age), including high-school students (who are at least 16 years old), college students (either 2-year or 4-year college), (2) parents of children/adults with ASD (who are between 16 and 25 years of age); and (3) professionals working with students with disabilities, especially high-school students and undergraduate students with ASD. Participants receive a $10.00 gift card for their time upon completion of the survey (the survey takes about 40 minutes).
If you would like to complete the survey, please send an email to

Project website:
Phone: 540-231-6744

Girls Under the Umbrella of ASD Webcast

Our November webcast is on the topic of girls with ASD. Girls and women with ASD are often underdiagnosed and lack effective comprehensive services to establish and maintain a quality of life. During this webcast, Dr. Lori Ernsperger will highlight the core gender differences between males and females with ASD. The focus of this webcast will be to review the current research and findings on girls and women with ASD and provide recommendations for future research.

Dr. Lori Ernsperger is the Director of Autism and Behavioral Consulting, LLC and a board certified behavior analyst-doctoral level. She has over 29 years of experience working in the public schools as a classroom teacher, administrator, and behavioral consultant. She currently provides professional development and conference workshops to school district professionals and parents. For more information or to register for this dynamic webcast, click here.

Register Now for Evidence-Based Practices to Teach Students with ASD

The next offering of Evidence-Based Practices to Teach Students with ASD is coming up in January! This course is designed to provide educators with skills and knowledge to instruct students with ASD in the educational setting. The course provides an overview of the importance of good instruction, appropriate skill selection, and evidence-based practices. A focus of the course will surround the "foundational five" evidence-based practices. The "foundational five" include: antecedent-based interventions, visual supports, systematic instruction, and interventions to promote social and communication skills. Participants will learn how to implement these practices through case study examples and supplemental learning activities.

Take advantage of this opportunity to expand your understanding of effective instruction practices by registering now!