Established in 2001, the Virginia Autism Council (VAC) is an interagency council of autism stakeholders. The VAC is the only autism-focused interagency group which includes family members and self-advocates, plus representatives from service and support agencies across the life span. The VAC meets regularly to determine ways to improve services for individuals with autism throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The VAC created and continues to manage a system for reviewing college/university coursework and certificate programs in autism to determine alignment with the Skill Competencies. The VAC manages and markets the programs available at local universities and community colleges by recognizing higher education institutions and their provision of coursework and certificate programs in the area of autism. Currently nine universities in Virginia are recognized for their alignment with the current Skill Competencies.
The Virginia Autism Council continues to find ways to collaborate across agencies, partners and communities to offer high quality information and training throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VAC’s commitment to increasing awareness, educational opportunities and professional development in the field of autism across the lifespan will continue based on the support from family members and self-advocates, plus representatives from service and support agencies.
The VAC is not directly supported by state funding but is able to continue its work due to the dedication of autism providers and educators across the Commonwealth. Completely funded through donations, all contributions allow the VAC to continue its cross-agency collaborations with both public and private partnerships, to publish the Skill Competencies, and to maintain a current website. As well, all trainings provided by the VAC are funded through donations. Donations can be made through the VAC website.
The mission of the VAC is to provide leadership and coordination for state agencies and service providers and to increase knowledge and understanding of autism in the wider community in order to improve outcomes for Virginians with autism. The VAC highlights agency work and provides opportunities for collaboration in the area of autism awareness, education and service.
In 2004, the VAC developed the “Skill Competencies for Professionals and Paraprofessionals in Virginia Supporting Individuals with Autism across the Lifespan.” In 2010, the Skill Competencies were reviewed and revised. The primary purpose of the Skill Competencies is to assist with professional development for providers serving and supporting individuals with ASD.
The Skill Competencies are used statewide. They provide a comprehensive list of skills and knowledge needed to effectively serve individuals with autism. The competencies have been used as a model by other states as well as by the Council for Exceptional Children.
The VAC developed supplementary resources including a Skill Competencies Tracker for teachers and paraprofessionals. These documents are based on the Skill Competencies and allow individuals and organizations to track professional development in autism. Both are available for free download at on our website.
The VAC has created a number of trainings on relevant topics related to autism. The trainings have been packaged and are designed to be used by both the VAC members as well as other agencies. The VAC trainings are regularly updated to ensure that the highest quality information and resources are included. Trainings have been updated to reflect changes associated with the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-V) published in 2013, as well as the changes in diploma categories from the Virginia Department of Education.
The VAC’s website provides a clearinghouse for educational and training opportunities across the Commonwealth of Virginia. The online training calendar provides information on training opportunities to advance personnel development and knowledge regarding autism. The VAC continues to update its information, resources and the statewide training calendar regularly. The VAC also works to increase awareness of trainings through Facebook and Google + pages.
The Partnership for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University has provided a “home” for the all-volunteer group of professionals, parents, and self-advocates. The VAC is grateful for the current collaboration and support provided by the Partnership for People with Disabilities at VCU and donations can be made through their website as well at www.partnership.vcu.edu.
Checks can be made payable to the Partnership for People with Disabilities with “VAC” in the memo line.
The Partnership for People with Disabilities
700 E. Franklin St., Suite 140
Richmond, VA 23219.
Or, make a secure online donation, HERE and click on the “donate” button.