Autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life and lasts throughout a person’s lifetime. It is a spectrum disorder with a wide range of characteristics ranging from mild to severe.

Individuals with autism demonstrate difficulties in social interaction, communication and behavior. Each person may display communication, social and behavioral patterns that are unique to the individual but fit into the overall diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. People with ASD also process and respond to information in unique ways.

The most recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 1 in 59 children has been identified with ASD. For additional resources for families and professionals, visit the Autism Society of America

Guidance documents

The Virginia Department of Education in collaboration with the staff at the VCU Autism Center for Excellence has created tools for educators, administrators and parents working to improve services for students with ASD:

Evidence-based practices 

Evidence-based practices are teaching strategies that research has shown to be effective. The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder has created free Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules to provide information and training related to the 27 identified EBPs for teaching individuals with ASD.

The Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence includes an Autism Center that is a clearinghouse for information on research, resources and trends in autism. 

Community of Leaders in Autism 

The Community of Leaders in Autism is made up of school personnel who provide leadership in their division for ASD. The Region 1 and Region 8 CoLA meet in the spring and the fall and culminates the school year with a statewide summer institute. The CoLA provides an opportunity for leaders in the field of autism to share experiences, learn from each other and network both personally and professionally. The CoLA is led by members of the regional T/TACs and VCU Autism Center for Excellence. If you are interested in participating in the CoLA, contact your regional CoLA team member

Resources 

  • Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia provides early intervention supports and services to infants and toddlers from birth through age two who are not developing as expected or who have a medical condition that can delay typical development. Information and resources for families and professionals are available through the Infant and Toddler Connection of Virginia.

  • Autism Society of Central Virginia provides nonprofit services, advocacy and support to families and professionals involved with autism. They provide five core services to maintain and increase the quality of life for all. These services include information and referral, support, community, advocacy, and education.

  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides online information and resources to help track developmental milestones. Their Milestone Tracker app provides an easy way for parents to track their child’s growth and development.

  • Center for Family Involvement at the Partnership for People with Disabilities at VCU partners with the Virginia departments of Education and Health, the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and others in supporting a variety of activities to strengthen family involvement.

  • Organization for Autism Research is an organization that shares research and resources to answer questions of daily concern to those living with autism. Through their research they have created resources to offer support to self-advocates, parents, siblings, teachers and military families.

  • VCU Autism Center for Excellence provides online training and resources for families and professionals.  Resources include how-to videos for evidence-based practices, webinars, online training and education, including the PARAPro course that aligns with House Bill 525 and training standards for individuals working with students with autism.

  • Virginia Autism Council is a group of experts who define needed skill competencies and who advance higher education, training and educational opportunities for personnel and caregivers supporting individuals with autism. They have developed and published the Skill Competencies for Professionals and Paraprofessionals in Virginia Supporting Individuals with Autism across the Lifespan and VA Adult and Adolescent Skill Competences with PD Tracker. To request copies of these documents, please contact Krystal McCabe at the VDOE's T/TAC at VCU’s at aidifkm@vcu.edu.

  • VDOE's T/TAC at VCU’s Library houses a wide variety of assessment instruments, resources, book studies and informational texts addressing the needs of individuals with autism that are available for Virginia’s superintendent’s regions 1 and 8.