Communities of Learning in Autism (CoLAs)
Summer Institute on Innovation & Impact for Students with ASD

Are you a CoLA member and interested in attending the 2017 Summer Institute?

Leaders Networking for Success
June 28-29, 2017
Doubletree by Hilton, Midlothian, VA
Contact Paige Carter at or Sue Palko at

Attending the Summer Institute and interested in presenting as part of the panel discussion session?

Here are the topics:

  • Building Capacity
  • Implementing Evidence Based Practices through Data-based Decision Making
  • Addressing Classroom Content and Instruction

Can't find your application?
Contact Paige Carter at or Sue Palko at

Download the panel discussion application here.

Highlights from the 2016 Summer Institute

The CoLA Summer Institute was held in Williamsburg on June 28-29, 2016. We were excited to have so many people join us! Here are some of the highlights from this great event!

Keynote Speaker

David Hamrick talking at a podium
David Hamrick opening keynote.

Weathering Autism Across the Lifespan

The 2016 keynote speaker was David Hamrick, M.S. Mr. Hamrick is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the greater Washington, D.C. area, and received his Master's degree in meteorology from NC State University. He has a diagnosis of autism and is a frequent presenter on how autism has personally influenced him. He explains how parents and educators can help children and teenagers with autism and related disorders reach their full potential both at school and home. Mr. Hamrick also explains issues confronting adults on the autism spectrum. He and his wife, Lindsey Nebeker, are featured in a documentary entitled "Autism in Love" by director Matt Fuller.

Closing Keynote Speakers

Group sitting in front of a room passing microphone
Closing Keynote.

Determined Beyond my Autism

The closing keynote speakers for 2016 were Patrick Gorman and Nic Silvey. Patrick is an Eagle Scout and a student at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, PA. Patrick also has Asperger's and Tourette's Syndromes. Nic has been involved in the I'm Determined project since 5th grade and plans on attending Virginia Western Community College followed by Virginia Tech to major in Engineering. Nic also has Asperger's Syndrome. Patrick and Nic spoke about their experiences in school including what helped make them successful and what some of the challenges they had experienced were.

Highlights from the Poster Session

The poster session is intended to showcase work being done in divisions. We had some great poster presentations this year and are proud of all the work our divisions are doing to better support students with ASD!


Other Presentations Included:

Virginia Tiered System of Supports: An Integration Framework to Increase Behavior and Academic Success for ALL Students by Karen Berlin

How to Fit a Square Peg in a Round Hole by Betsey Batten and Lyndsey Walker

The Ying and Yang of Communication by Mona Pruett and Amanda Randall

VTSS Implementation Science: What ASD Specialists Want to Know about Building Capacity and Sustainability by Karen Berlin and Johanna Colson

Think Inclusion First: Knocking Down the Behavioral Barriers! by Selena Layden and Cyndi Pitonyak

Employment for Adults with Autism: Career Supports and Behavioral Strategies for Success by Whitney Ham, Alissa Brooke, and Vicki Brooke

Virginia Tiered System of Supports: Discipline Ease by Karen Berlin and Johanna Colson

Communication Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms: Increasing Effectiveness for Teachers and Students by Marie Ireland

Embedding FBA/BIP Training into On-going Division Wide Professional Development by Brittany Graveline, Carol Schall, and Noel Woolard

Hosted By:

VCU-Autism Center for Excellence

VCU-ACE logo

Virginia Department of Education T/TACs