Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism 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 ASD demonstrate difficulties in social interaction, communication, and behavior. Each person displays communication, social, and behavioral patterns that are unique to the individual but fit into the overall diagnosis of ASD. There are five primary diagnostic terms that fall under the Autism Spectrum Disorder heading: Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, PDD-NOS, Rett's Syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. While each shares common characteristics, there are differences that distinguish one diagnosis from another. For more complete information on "What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?" visit:
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention alternate
What is the Prevalence of ASD?
- About 1 in 59 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network | Read Article
What on-line training is available to increase my understanding of ASD?
Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence (VCU ACE)
This Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorders provides participants with an understanding of the primary characteristics of ASD, which include impairments in communication and social development and the presence of repetitive patterns of behavior. Secondary characteristics, including sensory processing differences and motor deficits will also be explored. The course will discuss the impact ASD has on the person as well as the family unit. The course will also provide an overview of learning styles, the history, cause, and early signs of ASD. | Link Here
Autism Internet Modules (AIM)
Provide an extensive list of specific training modules within the categories of “recognizing autism, autism at home, autism in the classroom, autism in the workplace, and autism in the community.” Thirty-nine modules are currently available, with 35 more to be posted soon. | Link Here
National Professional Development Center on Autism
The National Professional Development Center on ASD has developed foundational information on Autism Spectrum Disorders including recommended and evidence-based practices for early identification and diagnosis, as well as for intervention and education. This information was originally developed in 2008 as an online course, Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorders, for Autism Training Team members and others in states with which the National Professional Development Center on ASD partners. The course is now available to increase knowledge about Autism Spectrum Disorders and the challenges individuals with ASD encounter. The content of the course is foundational and is divided among the following eight sessions. | Link Here
What assessments are available for learners with ASD?
“The evaluation of individuals with autism spectrum disorders can best be described as multidimensional. There are a variety of reasons why an assessment is initiated. Assessment procedures depend on the purpose of the evaluation, the referral question, the source of the referral, and the setting of service provision. The dual-level approach to assessment involves screening all children at-risk for developmental delay for characteristics associated with autism spectrum disorder, followed by a through diagnostic testing and evaluation of individual strengths and weaknesses...The accurate identification and assessment of autism spectrum disorder is dependent on the assessment process, not the results of a single measure or procedure. As such, collaboration between professionals, parents, and teachers is a necessary component of an effective assessment process and an accurate interpretation of information gathered.”
Source: Lantz, J. (2003). Assessment processes for autism spectrum disorders: Purpose and procedures. The Reporter, 8(1), 11-15. Retrieved from the Indiana Resource Center for Autism.
The Kellar Lending Library and the VDOE T-TAC at GMU house a wide variety of assessment instruments which are available for use in Region 4. In addition, there are a number of educational, communication, behavioral, assessment tools useful in gathering information about students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. Currently the T/TAC library holdings include the following assessments that were developed particularly for children and youth on the autism spectrum:
- The ABBLS-R: The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills, Revised (ABBLS) (check-out through TTAC @ GMU)
- The VB-MAPP: The Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (check-out through TTAC at GMU or Kellar Lending Library)
- ADOS: Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (check out through TTAC @ GMU)
- ASIEP-3: Autism Screening Instrument for Educational Planning; (Kellar Lending Library)
- GARS: The Gilliam Autism Rating Scale; (Kellar Lending Library)
- PEP 3: Psychoeducational Profile: Individualized Assessment and Treatment for Autistic and Developmentally Disabled Children (Kellar Lending Library)
What resources are available in evidenced based practices for learners with ASD?
While many interventions for autism exist, only some have been shown to be effective through scientific research. Interventions that researchers have shown to be effective are called evidence-based practices. General and special educators have access to information and training on evidenced based practices through the following websites and resources:
- Autism Internet Modules:
- provide on-line learning modules for 39 topics, including evidence-based practices. Current modules include: Antecedent-Based Interventions (ABI), ASD-4-EI: What Early Interventionists Should Know, Assessment for Identification, Autism and the Biopsychosocial Model: Body, Mind, and Community, Computer-Aided Instruction, Customized Employment, Differential Reinforcement, Discrete Trial Training, Extinction, Functional Communication Training, Home Base, Language and Communication Naturalistic Intervention, Overview of Social Skills Functioning and Programming, Parent-Implemented Intervention, Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention (PMII), Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Pivotal Response Training (PRT), Preparing Individuals for Employment, Prompting, Reinforcement, Response Interruption/Redirection, Restricted Patterns of Behavior, Interests, and Activities, Rules and Routines, Self-Management, Sensory Differences, Social Narratives, Social Skills Groups, Social Supports for Transition-Aged Individuals, Speech Generating Devices (SGD), Structured Teaching, Structured Work Systems and Activity Organization, Supporting Successful Completion of Homework, Task Analysis, The Employee with Autism, The Incredible 5-Point Scale™, Time Delay, Transitioning Between Activities and Visual Supports. A listing of 35 additional modules soon to be added is also available. | Link Here
- National Professional Development Center in Autism:
- The National Professional Development Center has developed 24 evidence-based practices briefs and implementation guides that correlate to the EBPs contained within the Autism Internet Modules (AIM) site. Each brief contains an overview, step-by-step directions for implementation, and an implementation checklist. The 24 practices include: Antecedent-Based Interventions (ABI), Computer-Aided Instruction, Differential Reinforcement, Discrete Trial Training, Extinction, Functional Behavior Assessment, Functional Communication Training, Naturalistic Intervention, Parent-Implemented Intervention, Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Pivotal Response Training, Prompting, Reinforcement, Response Interruption/Redirection, Self-Management, Social Narratives, Social Skills Groups, Speech Generating Devices/VOCA, Structured Work Systems, Task Analysis, Time Delay, Video Modeling, Visual Supports. | Link here
- National Standards Project in Autism:
- A comprehensive review of research on effective interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorders with a free downloadable manual. | Link Here
- Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence (VCU ACE)
- offers on-line courses, seminars and webcasts so that participants can acquire skills and knowledge on various topics related to ASD. Extension activities are included for most seminars. These activities can be completed afterwards to apply and practice knowledge and skills learned during the seminar in everyday situations. Extension activities also provide the opportunity to review content and reflect on new information. The activities can be done by an individual or in a group as part of professional development. | Link here
- IDEA Partnership
A continuing collection that includes Guiding Principles, Fact Sheet, Essential Elements, Grounding Assumptions, Needs of the Field, Glossary , Standards of Evidence and power point presentations and facilitator guides on Autism Spectrum Disorders. | Link Here
- Virginia Autism Council
The VA Autism Council's website provides information on ASD training available throughout Virginia. | Link Here
What are Virginia Department of Education ASD Guidelines and Resources?
Technical Assistance Documents
Tools for educators, administrators and parents working to improve services for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) - created in collaboration with staff at the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence (VCU ACE).
- Guidelines for Educating Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders PDF Link
- Models of Best Practice in the Education of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders PDF Link
- Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Transition to Adulthood PDF Link
- Virginia Department of Education - Autism Spectrum Disorders The website discusses the guidelines for being eligible for special education services under the label of autism. Offers links for resources.
- Virginia Department of Education - Special Education Regulations Provides a PDF of the Virginia special education regulations for children with disabilities throughout the state.
- Virginia Department of Education - A Parent's Guide to Special Education Provides parent information including the parent’s guide to special education, resolving issues, and resources.
- Virginia Department of Education - Resolving Disputes provides options for resolving disputes and other resources.
- Virginia Department of Education - Special Education Main Page identifies the steps in the special education referral process and provides resources for parents and professionals.
What are the Virginia guidelines for mandatory training to be completed by paraprofessionals working with students with ASD?
The Code of Virginia §22.1-298.3 requires each school board, by September 1, 2014, to ensure that paraprofessionals assigned to work with a teacher who has primary oversight of students with autism spectrum disorders receive training in student behavioral management within 60 days of assignment to such responsibility. Training standards for paraprofessionals assigned to a teacher who has primary oversight of students with autism spectrum disorders were approved by the Board of Education on January 10, 2013. Refer to Superintendent’s Memo #045-13, dated February 15, 2013.
The document, Training Guidelines for Paraprofessionals Assigned to Work with a Teacher who has Primary Oversight of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, is intended to assist local educational agencies (LEAs) as they work to address training for paraprofessionals. The Guidelines provide information on the requirements and best practices for implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the training of paraprofessionals. The Guidelines should be used in conjunction with existing regulations and are not intended to replace any existing regulation or policy.
Where can I learn more about VDOE ASD training and technical assistance for school personnel?
To learn more about VDOE Autism Spectrum Disorder training and technical assistance, visit VCU-ACE or contact the Region 4 TTAC at 703-993-4497.
Karen Berlin, M.Ed., BCBA,
Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Coordinator