Autism Advocacy Day 2020 was a great success!! Over 60 individuals came together at the General Assembly to advocate for Virginians with autism and their families. We visited legislators asking them to support important legislation, including increased funding for Virginia Medicaid Waivers, adding Small Group and Individual Market Coverage to Virginia’s Autism Insurance Law, and more.

We want to thank all who joined us for this important advocacy opportunity to share your stories and educate our legislators about the issues that impact Virginians with autism. We are grateful to Autism Speaks, the Virginia Autism Foundation, and the Virginia Autism Project for hosting Autism Advocacy Day with us. We also appreciate The Arc of Virginia for going above and beyond, as always, to support our advocacy efforts, both leading up to the event and throughout the day!

The strong turnout of passionate and committed individuals left us feeling inspired and grateful to be part of Virginia's autism community. We look forward to continued advocacy efforts throughout 2020! 

If you were unable to attend with us on Monday, we encourage you to reach out to your representatives to share your story and advocate for the needs of our autism community! You can find the contact information for your legislator by clicking here:
Executive Director's Message -
Ann Flippin
I hope everyone’s new year (and decade!) is off to a wonderful start!  I began mine enjoying newborn snuggles at home, but I was excited to come back mid-month and jump right into another great year at the ASCV.  I was welcomed back with an exciting 2019 Program Impact Report from our team! I am so encouraged by our incredible program reach and the growth we experienced in 2019, and I am beyond grateful to all who were part of this success.  I’m proud to share that we reached 52% more individuals than in 2018, serving over 6,000 individuals through our many programs and services!  This included:

  • 880+ ASCV members at 11 family events, including our new Trunk or Treat event, annual holiday party, and summer party at SCOR!
  • 670+ individuals through 50+ social and recreational programs
  • 300+ parents and siblings through 44 support groups
  • 475+ families and caregivers through 13 educational workshops
  • 600+ individuals through our Information & Referral Program
  • And much more!

As we enter 2020, the ASCV has once again set big goals, and we have started off strong, with a variety of social, recreational, support and educational programming. We hosted two workshops in January – one focused on how Mindfulness can be a helpful tool for parenting and managing stress, and another featuring the "I'm Determined" project, giving participants insight into this empowering program!  Our Membership Benefits Program continues to grow with additional community partners, and we have officially launched our Autism Friendly Communities initiative with a few key pilot partners.

Just this week we joined with fellow advocacy organizations to host an Autism Advocacy Day at the Virginia General Assembly, with over 60 advocates in attendance. I always enjoy this day to advocate alongside fellow families, as we share our powerful personal stories together. This day is always an emotional one for me, as I hear (and share my own) the many struggles we and our loved ones experience in our daily lives, and it brings the critical need for increased services and funding to the forefront.  It also unites our community— words of encouragement and hugs were shared between appointments, as we all were reminded that we aren’t alone in our journeys and have each other to lean on.  It was once again a very inspiring and meaningful experience!

We have an exciting February ahead, including:

  • Collaborations with community partners, including events at the Virginia  Museum of History and Culture, the Science Museum of Virginia, Laser Quest, and Dave & Busters
  • A workshop on "Autism, Puberty & Sexuality" with Dr. Staci Carr
  • A "Paint & Sip" Mom's Night Out
  • A Teen Sibling Club meeting, with a special guest speaker from the CKG    Foundation
  • And of course, our regular social & recreational programming!

We have big plans coming for National Autism Awareness Month in April that we are excited to unveil soon.  Be sure to stay tuned!

Finally, we have launched into 5K season! Our 5K & Family Fun Day planning committee has kicked off our plans for another great event at Stony Point on May 16th.  If you haven’t joined us for this inspiring event before, don’t miss out!  We’ll have activities and fun for all, and you can find more details about the event featured below in this newsletter.

Thank you all for being a part of our ASCV family, for supporting our mission, participating in our programming, and inspiring us every day!

ASCV  2020 5K & Family Fun Day
Mark your calendar for the 18th Annual Autism Society Central Virginia 5K & Family Fun Day!  We’ll be back at Stony Point Fashion Park on Saturday, May 16, 2020.  Join us for races, on-stage performances, kids activities, a Resource Fair, food vendors, and more!

Our 5K run/walk race is back with a new course in Stony Point, and we’ve added a new family-friendly length this year—a 1.5 mile loop for those runners or walkers wanting a shorter distance.  And, of course, our Kids Fun Run is back too!

Register your team, fundraise together, and join us for this fun and inspiring day as we honor and support our local autism community. Our goal is to raise $180,000 in honor of our 18th Anniversary.  Remember—the funds raised here, stay here!

Don't miss out on the early bird rate of $25 before prices increase on March 1st.  Register today at!

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 written by Ashly Richards features the Richards and Pallister's journey. Special thanks to them for contributing to the ASCV's February newsletter!
Case, our 8-year-old son, is demanding.

“Wear black cat, blue shirt.” (This is his favorite shirt. He MUST wear it. EVERY DAY.) “Get grilled cheese, juice box, fries and ice cream.” (This is a trip to Sonic, his favorite restaurant. Almost every day.) “Go to Brendam Docks.” (This is a trip to Walmart -- for yet another of his beloved trains. Again, almost every day.) “Ride on daddy’s shoulders.” (Thankfully, this request is not as frequent, as Case weights 70 pounds.)
You might relate to such demands and the difficulty that ensues when saying "no" to any of them if you have a loved one on the Autism spectrum. Or maybe you can't relate to these specific behaviors but you face your own challenges in trying to navigate the unique world that an ASD diagnosis opens up. It has taken us years to even begin to understand our son’s world, to even try to negotiate the tricky political waters, and to even start to feel like maybe we can provide all that he needs and deserves. As we’ve all learned over time, it is not easy. There are no simple answers. Teachers, doctors, medicines, therapies and demands change so quickly that it’s hard to feel like you’re ever on solid ground. And just when you feel like maybe you've found an answer, there is another question. Or questions. Ultimately, what you learn is that you can't make this journey without help. It's a constant search to find the people who can most efficiently and effectively help us. Along our journey, we quickly found Autism Society Central Virginia, and the organization has been with us every step of the way.
We emailed question after question, seeking answers. We always got direction. We always got advice. We felt the warm hand of support whenever we reached out. For that and its continued presence in our lives, our family is grateful. We can't repay the lifeline the organization has given us, but we feel a duty to try. That’s where the annual 5K came into play. The least we can do is seek donations. But there is so much more to the event. Each year, we happily wake up early, kids in tow, to join the countless other families and advocates walking and running to show their support for ASCV and the Autism community. One morning of our time is a small payment for all the hard work and dedication. We show up for the organization that always shows up for us. Even if that means daddy has to carry a demanding child on his shoulders for half the race. 

And speaking of Case’s dad, he has discovered just how important a relationship with ASCV can be. In late 2018, he reached out to Tom Silvestri, then publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, to see if he would be interested in putting on a Public Square forum to increase understanding and awareness of Autism after a controversial opinion piece was published in the paper. He soon learned that on the same day, ASCV had reached out to the publisher as well for the same reason. Ultimately, ASCV took the lead in putting together a panel for the presentation that took place at the paper on Jan. 30, 2019, in downtown Richmond. The Public Square was a testament to the importance of ASCV in the Richmond area. Case and others like him have benefited greatly from the organization's presence and influence in the community, with a focus on supporting Autistic children and their families, and the Public Square only served to spread the message of hope and inclusion.

And as our family became more involved with ASCV, my parents took notice. As much as we are there for our kids, my parents have been there for us. And their grandkids. I asked my dad to write a little bit about his journey with Autism and ASCV. Here are his words:

”Marsha and I have five grandchildren (3 boys and 2 girls). The oldest is 10 and the youngest will soon be 3. They all live here in RVA and we consider ourselves extremely lucky to be so close to them. Case is the second oldest at 8, but he is the biggest in terms of size, energy and, yes, challenges. As grandparents, we have practiced the adage of “love them ... and then give them back”. We are no longer on the front lines of daily parenting, but we certainly love to pitch in whenever needed. When it comes to Case, precious few of our life experiences and traditional parenting instincts were of much value. We were basically starting from scratch since the day Case was diagnosed. Ashly and Matt found help and hope through their involvement in ASCV programs and events. Marsha and I attended several 5K events and for nearly two years have been taking Case every week to the wonderful gymnastics program for ASD kids at River City Inclusive Gymnastics. There we have seen the broad range of abilities, challenges and breakthrough moments for kids and their families. Case has grown closer to us and has rewarded us with his smiles, hugs and hilarious, often metaphorical, observations, during our car rides. A conversation with Case can sometimes be like Captain Picard’s dialogue with the Tamarian captain Dathon in season five of Star Trek Next Gen. You don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to appreciate that episode if you have communication barriers with a loved one on the spectrum. Despite his progress, we know there are significant challenges ahead for him, his parents, his teachers, caregivers and our entire family. That is why I was grateful to be invited to the board of ASCV. Hopefully, I can contribute to the board's mission while learning from those on the front lines of making a real difference for ASD families.”
We are so thrilled that someone like my dad is now on the ASCV board. We know that the current ASCV leadership is more than capable in helping our family - and yours - navigate our uniquely special world.
ASCV January Program Spotlight -
Inclusive Lego & Game Club
The ASCV hosts a monthly Inclusive Lego & Game Club that’s open to all members of the community. Children of all abilities, with or without autism, in grades K-8 are invited to build with Legos and play board games with their peers and ASCV volunteers. This inclusive club gives individuals the opportunity to increase their self-esteem and improve their socialization skills. Our next meeting will be held at the ASCV office in Downtown Richmond on Saturday, Feburary 29th from 10-11:30am. Register your child for this fun event today:
ASCV February Workshop
Autism, Puberty and Sexuality:
What You Need to Know and How to Teach It

Join us on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 at 6:30 pm for a workshop on Autism, Puberty and Sexuality presented by Dr. Staci Carr.

Social and sexual development occurs together, however often not at the same rate for individuals with Autism.  Understanding social and sexual development and how to prepare for puberty and relationships improves a person's quality of life.

The goals of this workshop are to help parents and caregivers:
To promote health, safety and abuse prevention,
To recognize and understand an individual rights, 
To be proactive – prevent crises,
To focus on the positive – not problems,
To reduce confusion and uncertainty around sexuality and autism,
To increase knowledge 
To increase self advocacy and self determination for individuals with ASD. 

Register here to reserve your seat for this important workshop: 
ASCV March Workshop
How to Talk so Schools will Listen and
Listen so Schools Will Talk
Join the ASCV on Wednesday, March 4th for our monthly workshop presented by Keri Peko of PEATC at River Road United Methodist Church at 6:30pm.

Why are partnerships so difficult? What can be done to improve understanding between parents and professionals as they seek to find mutual agreement on IEPs and other issues related to education for students with disabilities? This workshop will help participants discover communication techniques, learn how to recognize and prevent barriers to communication and build agreements around difficult problems.

February Fundraiser for the ASCV!
 ASCV February Programs Calendar
 Find our entire calendar of events here.​ 
If you have any questions about our Fall programming, please email us at 
February 3
Minds of All Kinds at Science Museum of Virginia; 4-8pm; details & registration:

February 5
ASCV Workshop: Autism, Puberty and Sexuality: What You Need to Know and How to Teach It; 6:30-8pm; details & registration:

February 8
Laser Quest Sensory Friendly Laser Tag; 10am-12pm; for more information:

Support Group for Caregivers of Children with ASD Ages 0-10 at Manchester YMCA; 12:30-1:30pm; details & registration:

February 9
ASCV Member Bowling Event at Shrader Lanes; members received Eventbrite invitation via Email 

February 11
Support Group for Caregivers of Children with ASD Ages 0-10 at Shady Grove YMCA; 10-11am; details & registration:

February 15
ASCV Sensory Friendly Movie at the Byrd Theatre: Movie TBA; 2pm; Carytown

February 16
ASCV Teen Sibling Club; 3-5pm; details & registration:

February 20
ASCV Member Event: Moms' Night Out at Paint Crazy; members to receive Eventbrite invitation via email

February 21
Teen Social Groups at Midlothian YMCA; members received Eventbrite invitation via email

Support Group for Caregivers of Teens with ASD; middle school parents meet 6-7pm; high school parents meet 7:30-8:30pm; Midlothian YMCA; details & registration:

February 22
Sensory Friendly Morning at Virginia Museum of History & Culture;
9-11am; details & registration: 

February 23
Dave & Buster's Sensory Friendly Sunday; 8:30-10:30am; for more information:

February 24
Adult Social Group; 7pm; River Road United Methodist Church

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

February 28
ASCV Member Event: Indoor Pool Party; members received Eventbrite invitation via email

February 29
ASCV Inclusive Lego & Game Club; 10-11:30am; details & registration:

 ASCV Community Partner Events
February Community Calendar
click on links in blue for additional info
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. ​

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

February 8
Early Autism Services Valentine's Day Party; 10am-12pm; for more information email or call 804-489-7364

SOAR365 Valentine Dance for Adults with Disabilites & their Families;
6-8pm; RSVP to, 804-572-9574 or, 804-892-3180

February 11-13
Weinstein Jewish Community Center Reel Abilities Diversity & Inclusion Film Festival; for information:

February 11
Northstar Career Academy: College with Disabilities- Postsecondary Experiences & the Advice We Can Share; 5pm; details & registration here:

February 13
Sensory Friendly Story Time at Chesterfield Central Library; 10:30am; for more information:

February 15

Courage to Succeed & CA Human Services Adult Programs present a free screening of Autism Goes to College; 11am-1:30pm; for more information, email or call 804-370-0550

February 18
Launch VIP Time; 5-7pm; details here: 

February 22
Petersburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Workshop: Navigating the IEP- Advocating for Your Child; 10am-2pm; for more information email Rhonda Johnson at

Ashland Theatre Au-some Movie; Title TBA; 12pm; call 804-401-7007, ext. 210 to leave a message to reserve up to 4 free tickets for the movie; must call to reserve, seating is limited

February 26
Caminos Group support group for Latino families with autism;
10am-12pm; Sacred Heart Center, 1400 Perry Street, Richmond, 23224; RSVP at 804-646-0145

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 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.
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