• What is Autism?

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    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. With the May 2013 publication of the new DSM-5 diagnostic manual, these autism subtypes will be merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.

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  • What are the early warning signs of Autism?

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    No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
    No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
    No babbling by 12 months
    No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
    No words by 16 months
    No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
    Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

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  • I suspect that my child is on the Autism Spectrum, what do I do?

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    The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers)  can help you determine if a professional should evaluate your child. This simple online autism screen, available on the Autism Speaks website, takes only a few minutes. If the answers suggest your child is at risk for autism, please consult with your child’s doctor. Likewise, if you have any other concerns about your child's development, don't wait. Speak to your doctor now about screening your child for autism.

    Richmond Public Schools Intake Team
    While doctors can diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorders, the intake team in Richmond Public Schools can provide an educational disability category based on assessment completed in the intake process. The intake process is as follows.

    Step 1: The family or service provider calls to make a referral. At the time of referral, the family provides minimal information such as developmental concerns, speech/language concerns or other factors that may have prompted the referral.  

    Step 2: Richmond Public School schedules a child study date. Child study can be completed over the phone, or you may meet in person with the team. The child does not need to be present during this interview. At the Child Study meeting you will talk with the team about strengths, weaknesses and other concerns and as a team, determine the need to refer for an evaluation for Special Education Services. If you have private reports such as a diagnosis from a doctor or other professional, it is helpful to bring this documentation to the meeting. 

    Step 3: If the child is referred for evaluation, the intake team will pick components for the evaluation based on information gathered during referral and child study. The team will schedule an evaluation date. 

    Step 4: Once evaluations are complete, the team meets to determine if the child is eligible to receive special education services.

    Step 5: After evaluation and eligibility, if the child is found eligible to receive special education services, the team will determine the disability category and schedule an IEP date.

    The Richmond Public Schools Intake Team is located at Maymont Preschool Learning Center and be can be reached by calling (804)780-8058 , fax (804) 780-8058 or by email Helena Edwards 

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  • I have a child with Autism, what types of services does Richmond Public Schools provide?

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    Richmond Public schools offers a variety of services and supports to address the needs of the individual students we serve. Common services for students with autism may include speech/language therapy, occupational therapy. While some students may not qualify for these services, for those that do, we encourage the therapists to work with the classroom teacher to develop plans that provide the same level of support and expectations across environments. This allows for more successful generalization of skills, leading to increased independence.

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  • What is the ACE Project? How are they affiliated with Richmond Public Schools?

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    Richmond Public Schools has been awarded a grant from Virginia Commonwealth University to receive technical assistance across 3 years. Technical assistance includes development of a strategic plan, providing professional development to a variety of school personnel, assisting in development of various assessment and training tools and products, and providing additional support and resources related to serving students with Autism and their families. You can view an outline of the Richmond Public Schools Services Improvement Plan on the ACE website.

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