Archived News: Across Virginia
January 2015

Exciting News from Cohort 1: Newport News

On January 26th, two SLPs and three ASD teachers will present “Conquering Communication Challenges” to all teachers and paraprofessionals working with students with ASD- K-12, and teachers of students with Moderate and Significant Intellectual Disabilities in Newport News Public Schools. This training is a result of the work the Model Communication Classroom Committee has done to develop the “Must Do Communication Strategy Protocol” for every classroom serving students with an autism spectrum disorders. The committee members are: Betty Menking, SLP, Carolyn Hall, SLP, Kim Keith, Teresa Clement, and Stefanie Paul – all classroom teachers. This training will complete the communication evidence-based practices for all students when combined with the intensive practices resulting from the VB-MAPP assessment and goals in place in the ASD classrooms. The content of the training will be the evidence-based practices necessary to facilitate communication development in five areas:

a. planning/arranging for

b. social

c. behavior IS communication

d. communication partners (roles)

e. developing visuals and knowing how to implement them

The training structure includes:

Instruction: How Do I Do This?; Videos to Illustrate; and Practice. Fidelity checklists will be utilized in the classrooms to determine practice accountability for training content.


Charlene Wentland, ACE TA, Kelly Barrett, TTAC-ODU, Autism Specialist, Wendy Clayton, teachers Kasey Reed, and Erin Butterfield from Newport News, along with Trish Momtsios from Chesapeake and Jo Robertson from Gloucester will co-present a training sponsored by ODU T/TAC based on the book "Drawing a Blank: Improving Comprehension for Readers of the Autism Spectrum" by Emily Iland. This training will be offered twice in March. The content covers social, communication and developmental issues inherent in a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and how these issues operationalize to make reading comprehension a difficult task for students on the autism spectrum.

Social Skills PLCs are moving ahead in Newport News. The secondary team is working to add supports to the PEERS curriculum and to embed I’m Determined and Person Centered Planning into daily activities. The elementary team is working toward establishing social skills groups in classes and to increase the formal peer networks in their buildings through the establishment of Peer Buddy Readers.