Executive Director's Message
Ann Flippin

I’m excited to share that our 2019 programs are off to a strong start.  During the first two months of the year, we hosted 18 social, recreational, support and educational programs, with over 400 attendees.  Please be sure to view our calendar of events below in this newsletter to take part in our upcoming programs.

It’s officially 5K season! It’s hard to believe we are already gearing up for our 17th annual event. I have fond memories of the 5K over the years, from bringing up the rear of walkers alongside my brother and dad while in high school, to volunteering as a route guide in college, and to experiencing the event in a leadership role for the first time last year. It’s inspiring to see how much our event has grown over the years, and to see the continued passion and commitment of our sponsors, families & participants year after year.

2019 should be no different! We are grateful to have an outstanding planning committee made up of dedicated leaders, fundraisers, parents, and professionals. I’m excited to highlight a few of them and share their inspiration for being part of planning our event and ensuring it’s a meaningful and fun experience for all!

Donna Sabel, longtime ASCV volunteer, shares, “Our family's journey is
testimony to this aspect of the organization's mission ever since we first became involved when our son was in preschool and he's now 19. Aside from the fact that the day itself is one of celebration, fun activities, and access to local resources, I continue to be involved in the 5K event in order to give back to an organization that has given us and our community so much.”

Jennifer Barnum, top fundraiser and captain of Team bELIeve, shares, “My family has been participating in the ASCV 5K for the past 11 years. We are passionate about raising money that stays in the RVA community. Our family looks forward to the 5K every year. We make it an all-day fun event for our family and friends to celebrate our son!”

Sarah Ratner, ASCV Board member, shares, “As a mom of an 18 year old
with autism, and as someone who just generally loves being outdoors with family and friends, I can think of no better way to spend a spring morning in Richmond than at the ASCV 5K! Now a Richmond tradition, this fully inclusive event is empowering and inspiring for everyone in our community who has autism or who loves someone with autism—not to mention raising much needed funds for essential programs and services provided year-round. Our family can't wait to participate again this year, and we're excited to mix things up with the new location at Stony Point!!”

Kate Fletcher, captain of The Fighting Fletchers, shares, “When my oldest son was diagnosed with autism in 2010, I had a nonverbal 3-year-old, a newborn, a drained bank account, and not much hope. I called the ASCV looking for guidance, and their staff spent hours on the phone with me explaining Medicaid waivers and next steps. Their counsel put us on a path to success. Nine years and two more kids diagnosed with autism later, the ASCV continues to be a ray of hope in our lives. Between workshops, social gatherings, and scholarships, we take much more than we give. The 5K is one way our family can say “thank you” and pay it forward.”

Kristen Keys, BCBA with Recognizing Children’s Gifts shares, “I've taken part in the ASCV 5K for over 8 years now. I love that it brings the community together and provides resource booths, so that everyone can learn more about what's happening locally. I know that the money I raise through the 5K goes right back into my local community. I look forward to participating in the 5K for many more years to come!”

These are just a few of our leadership committee members; we are grateful to our entire committee for making our 5K such a meaningful and fun annual event for our participants.  We invite you to join us by forming your 5K team today, and to also share your inspiration for being a part of our ASCV family!

As always, we are grateful for the support of our ASCV member families, program participants, community partners and volunteers, for making our wonderful support services and programs possible!

-Ann Flippin
Executive Director
Click Here to Register Today

February's Featured Program
We hosted our annual ASCV member Winter Pool Party this past Friday, with 80 attendees.  Our members enjoyed an evening of swimming, slides, pool games, and fun together.  One mom who has attended two years in a row shared, "this program is the reason my son isn't afraid of getting in the water."  Thank you to the JCC, and their incredible staff and lifeguards for making it a wonderful experience for all, and to our families for a great evening together!
Advocacy Updates
Autism Insurance Bill Passed- Age Cap Removed!

Huge strides were made last week in Virginia! House Bill 2577 and Senate Bill 1693 both passed through the General Assembly, removing the age cap from insurance coverage for autism-related services and supports! We are grateful to those who have shared their stories, visited their representatives, and advocated for this change in the Commonwealth! Thank you to the VA Autism Project, VA Autism Foundation, Autism Speaks, and many others who advocated for years to make this a reality. We are thrilled to be one step closer to making services and supports more accessible for individuals with autism living in Virginia and their families!     
Ask your Members of Congress to Support the Autism CARES Act

A bill to reauthorize the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (CARES) Act was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate earlier this month.  We urge you to support the efforts to reauthorize this important law by contacting your Senators and Representatives and urging them to cosponsor and pass the Autism CARES Act of 2019.

Since its enactment in 2006, the Autism CARES Act has significantly increased research efforts, surveillance and awareness activities, public education, and training of professionals to screen and/or diagnose for autism and other developmental disabilities.

The proposed bills would reauthorize the Autism CARES Act for five years. If the Autism CARES Act is not reauthorized by September 30, 2019, the law will expire. While great progress has been made since 2006, there is still a significant need for additional services, supports, and education to improve the quality of lives of individuals with autism and their families. 

The Autism Society of America has sent a letter of support to the bill's main sponsors and has been busy advocating to increase the number of cosponsors. Please join us by contacting your Senators and Representatives today!  For a letter, fact sheets and additional resources related to this bill, visit ASA’s Autism CARES Act campaign page.
ASCV Member Spotlight
The ASCV Spotlight features individuals, families, events and organizations that are supporting the Autism Society Central Virginia’s mission of improving the lives of all affected by autism by maximizing the self-sufficiency, independence, and quality of life for all living with autism.  This month’s column features ASCV member, Karen Isik and her family. Special thanks to Karen for contributing this article to the March 2019 Newsletter.

Hello to all the Au-Some Warriors out there! I'm Karen Isik, proud parent of Lucas. Lucas is 11 years old, and he received the diagnosis of low functioning autism just before his second birthday. I remember that day like it was yesterday, the doctor saying "Your child will never speak, live without a caregiver, and will never develop over the age of approximately three." My first reaction was "Excuse me? Am I in the right office?" I had heard very little about autism, only what was discussed in movies and media. We left the office, and as I was buckling Lucas in the car, I bent down to him, kissed him and said, "Don't worry buddy, I got your back!" He smiled and we drove off. After dropping Lucas off at daycare, I sat in my car on my way to work thinking; "what do I do?" I got to work and quickly asked my good friend Google! The first result that posted was the Autism Society Central Virginia. I spoke with their staff who sent me to the "Resources" page on their website, advised me where I needed to go, and what I needed to do now that we had an official diagnosis. I became a champion of the ASCV on that day! Without their help, this single mom would be lost. Each and every time that I need advice or direction, my first stop is the ASCV.

In 2010, a year after Lucas' diagnosis, I had been championing ASCV, but I still didn't feel like it was enough. I wanted to give back to them for everything they had done for Lucas and me, but I didn't know how. Then one day it hit me like a ton of bricks. Funds were getting tight, even though I had a great job with a local financial corporation, but I was finding that this Au-Some life was Au-Somely expensive. I loved being creative and crafting, so I thought, what if I could sell my crafts to help offset some of our costs? That's when I created Cuddle Up for a Cause.

After a few months, Lucas started getting interested in what I was doing, so I allowed him to join in. It was like killing five birds with one stone! Lucas and I were getting to spend more time together, I was making a few extra dollars, Lucas' therapy bills were going down because I started doing his therapy myself, and the best part was I could give ASCV some of my profits! Fast forward to now, Cuddle Up for a Cause has thrived with the same mission of bringing awareness and acceptance to individuals and families connected to Autism, and now the ASCV receives 10% of the profits we earn! I invite you to follow our journey via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Since Cuddle Up for a Cause has grown exponentially (and way above my expectations), we also sponsor an annual event the last Saturday in April called "Until the Pieces Fit" Autism Fundraiser benefiting the ASCV. It's a HUGE block party to end Autism Awareness Month with a bang! There are over 100 exhibitors, a Gaming Trailer, face painting, arts, crafts, food, and a TON of fun for the whole family. This year the event is on April 27th from 9am to 5pm at Southpark Mall in Colonial Heights. Be sure to add it to your calendar, stop by and show your support!
Help the ASCV Highlight Au-some
Individuals on Facebook in April!

As we celebrate autism awareness, acceptance, and community belonging this April, we’re eager to feature individuals on the autism spectrum on our ASCV Facebook page each day.

If you would like an individual (or yourself if you are a self-advocate) featured, please email their picture to info@ascv.org, along with their name and a couple sentences about their interests, hobbies, skills and talents, and why they are so very special to you.

Thank you for helping us share some of the Au-some individuals that live right here in Central VA during Autism Awareness Month!

Click Here to Volunteer
Have a big group? Contact Development@ascv.org for group volunteer opportunities!
March Workshop
ASCV March Program
Ten Things You Need to Know about IEPs
Presented by
Tammy Burns, Family Support Specialist, PEATC

Join us next Friday, March 8th at 7pm at River Road United Methodist Church for this informative IEP Workshop! For more than 30 years, children with disabilities have been guaranteed the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). All parents are equal participants in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) development for their child according to the law, but IEPs can be confusing and very stressful for parents.  Whether your child is just starting in the special education system, transitioning from one school to another, or you just need a refresher, this workshop will be beneficial for you.  Participants will learn the ten “need to know” things about IEPs to empower them to be a more confident and comfortable advocate for their child. Registration and details: https://ascviepwkshp2019.eventbrite.com

Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2019 Sibling Squad dates:
  • March 16
  • May 11
  • July 20
  • September 21
  • November 16
Watch the ASCV weekly news for more information!
 ASCV March Programs Calendar
Find our entire calendar of events here.​

March 1, 2 & 3
VA Wine Expo- benefittng the ASCVMain Street Station; details: 

March 2
Comedy Sportz Improv Workshop for Teens; this event is full for ASCV Members, please email info@ascv.org to join the waitlist

March 8
ASCV March Program "Ten Things You Need to Know about IEPs" presented by Tammy Burns; details and registration: 

March 9
Support Group for Parents of Children with ASD Ages 0-8; 12:30pm;

ASCV Sensory Friendly Movie at the Byrd Theatre; Ralph Breaks the Internet; 2pm; Carytown

March 16
ASCV Sibling Squad; 10am-12pm; details & registration: 

March 17 
Bowling outing for children/youth/adults with autism; free for ASCV members; check your email for Eventbrite invitation

March 23
ASCV Kick-off for the 5k & Family Fun Day; 2-4pm; Stony Point Fashion Park; details & registration coming soon

March 25
Adults with Asperger’s/HFA Group; 7pm; River Road United Methodist Church

Parents of Adults with ASD Support Group; 7pm; River Road United Methodist Church

March 30
Inclusive Lego & Game Club – Downtown; 10am; details and
registration: https://ascvlegomar19.eventbrite.com
Upcoming ASCV Workshops
Mark your calendar for these upcoming workshops on preparing teens with ASD for the transition to college on Friday, April 12, 2019 at River Road United Methodist Church, 8800 River Road in Richmond. 

Both workshops will be presented by Barbara Simeroth of Spectrum Wise, a college consultant for idividuals on the spectrum. The first workshop, 
"Begin Preparing your Middle School Student for College (It’s Not Too Early!)" will begin at 6:15pm and will be geared toward middle school parents. The second workshop, "Beyond Academics; Preparing to Go to College with ASD" is for parents of high schoolers and starts at 7:45pm. Be on the look out for registration and more details to come.
News from the Community
The following announcements, events, and opportunities are not sponsored by the Autism Society Central Virginia. They are provided for informational purposes and should not necessarily be considered an endorsement by the ASCV. ​
Advertise in the ASCV Newsletter
Our newsletter reaches over 3,000 families, professionals and educators on a monthly basis. If you would like to place an advertisement, please contact us at info@ascv.org. Ad Rates: 1/2 page ad = $75 ($68 non-profit) or Full page ad = $100 ($90 non-profit). Long term Ad discounts: Ads of 6-11 months =10% discount, Ads of 12 months or longer = 15% discount.

The Board reserves the right to refuse to place an advertisement.
March Community Calendar
click on links in blue for additional info
March 1
Special Nights at the Children's Museum- Downtown; 5:30-7:30pm; details: https://www.childrensmuseumofrichmond.org/full-menu/calendar/

March 2
Richmond Symphony Sensory Friendly Performance "The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant;" 11am; Carpenter Theatre; details and tickets: 

March 4                  
Sensory Story Time at Glen Allen Library; for more information visit:

Hanover SEAC Meeting at 7pm; Hanover School Board Office,
200 Berkley St.; for more nformation, call 804-365-4596

Sky Zone Special Needs Sensory Friendly Night, 5pm-6pm; for more information call 804-379-2500 or visit http://www.skyzone.com/richmond

March 5
Jumpology Special Needs Night, 5pm-7pm; http://www.jumpology.us/Pricing-Hours for more information

Sensory Story Time at Varina Area Library; for more information:

March 6
Chesterfield SEAC Meeting at 5pm; CTC@Hull, 13900 Hull Street Road,
Midlothian, Room A256 ; for more information: https://tinyurl.com/y7mb4l8z

March 8
I'm Determined Youth & Parent Summit application due; June 12-14; James Madison University; registration open now: https://buff.ly/2MfhG8G

March 11
PEATC Workshop- Disability Benefits: Medicaid Waivers & Social Security; 6pm; Goochland High School; details & registration:

March 12
PEATC Webinar- Turning 18 in Virginia: What Individuals with Disabilities Need to Consider; 12pm; details & registration: 

Richmond SEAC Meeting; visit https://www.rvaschools.net/Page/1277 for more information

March 20
Asperger's Are Us Sketch Comedy Show; 8-9:30pm; details & tickets: 

March 26
Henrico SEAC Meeting at 6:30pm; Brookland Middle School, 9200 Lydell Dr, Richmond; for more information: https://tinyurl.com/y8gsofw6

March 27
Caminos Group support group for Latino families with autism; meets at the Sacred Heart Center, 1400 Perry Street, Richmond, 23224 from 10am-12pm; RSVP at 804-646-0145

Check Out the ASCV on Social Media