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our April newsletter, for National Autism Awareness Month.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Public Square
On January 30th, the Richmond Times-Dispatch (RTD) hosted their 76th Public Square on “Understanding Autism.” We had a powerful and inspiring conversation about the importance of creating opportunities for all individuals with autism, families and communities.

Our ASCV team was very grateful to help plan the event in collaboration with the RTD team and many other local stakeholders, and to bring together a panel and audience that represented the diversity of the autism community.  We are hopeful the conversation will encourage a more educated and inclusive community and inspire collaborations to foster further acceptance and understanding. We are grateful to all who attended, and we look forward to continuing the conversation and collaborating together as a community.  

We invite you to read the RTD’s article summarizing the event here, and also the editorial we wrote leading up to the event here.
ASCV DD Advocacy Day Recap
On Tuesday, January 29, we hosted our annual Developmental Disabilities (DD) Advocacy Day at the General Assembly.  Our group of 24 advocates participated in a total of 21 meetings with Virginia legislators to advocate for topics including increased funding to serve individuals on the DD waiver waiting list, removing the age cap on insurance coverage for autism-related services, and creating more inclusive opportunities for individuals with autism. If you’d like to learn more about getting involved in our advocacy efforts, please reach out to
Executive Director's Message
Ann Flippin

2019 is off to an exciting & inspiring start for the ASCV!  We kicked off our workshop series with a motivating and passionate self-advocate, Hallie Hovey-Murray, a young lady currently in law school at William & Mary. Hallie shared her journey about growing up with autism and how she has overcome expectations and obstacles along the way.  She actively engaged our audience and answered a wide range of questions about common challenges individuals with autism and their families have faced.

Last week we had the honor of leading a couple of important advocacy and awareness initiatives.  On Tuesday, January 29, we hosted our annual DD Advocacy Day at the General Assembly, where we were joined by 24 volunteers and hosted 21 meetings in legislative offices.  Hearing our families’ stories and day-to-day challenges reminded me how important it is for us to work together as a community to advocate for the best possible resources for individuals with autism and their families.

The following day’s Public Square at the Richmond Times-Dispatch proved just how strong and passionate of a community we are.  We are grateful to the leadership team at the RTD for taking an editorial that sparked such an emotional divide and coming full-circle to create a wonderful opportunity to bring people together.  It was truly inspiring to see so many members of our very diverse community together, under one roof, advocating for individuals with autism.  Part of the ASCV’s mission is to help create a unifying voice here in Central Virginia, and this event was a wonderful opportunity to do just that. We must all work together to foster further understanding, acceptance, and inclusion.

One of the themes that came out of the Public Square is the need to create a more autism friendly RVA.  The ASCV is excited to share that we’re launching a new initiative that will do just that, called Autism Friendly Communities.  This program is a collaboration with local businesses and organizations that will include training, evaluation of policies and procedures, and additional consultation to create settings that better accommodate individuals with autism and their families. Please be on the lookout for further details about this program in next month’s newsletter.

We have many exciting programs and initiatives planned for 2019, including our regular social, recreational, and support programs. We are gearing up for our annual member pool party in February, National Autism Awareness Month in April, and our annual 5K & Family Fun Day on April 18th.
Thank you all for being part of our ASCV family and for providing us with support and motivation as we strive to expand our impact on the lives of individuals with autism here in Central Virginia!
-Ann Flippin
Executive Director
January's Featured Program
Sibling Squad is a special program for brothers and sisters, ages 7 to 13, of children with special needs. This program is a great opportunity for siblings to spend time together for peer support and education in a fun and interactive setting.

This month we kicked off our first Sibling Squad of 2019 with a great group of siblings and volunteers. We played games to get to know each other and competed in a series of events in “Office Olympics”. We created Family Trees and shared them with the group. We wrapped up the morning with a game that encouraged reflection, sharing and connection around being a sibling of someone with special needs. 

If you have a child in mind, ages 7-13, who you think would enjoy this program, please bring them to check it out! If you have a sibling who is older than age 13, we would love for them to participate with Sibling Squad as a volunteer! Please contact Sarah Doyle at if you have any questions, and stay tuned for more information, including dates for upcoming Sibling Squads! 
ASCV 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, Nadia Berrio and her family. Special thanks to the Valencia Berrio Family for contributing this article to the February 2019 Newsletter.

One year ago we had no idea what an IEP was. We do remember the nurse emphasizing, after Camila’s diagnosis, that the document she was handing to us was a legal document we could bring to court. We were confused and wondered why we would need to bring her diagnosis to court. Then, on March 16 and 17 last year we attended the ASCV IEP bootcamp and so much got clearer. That was our first interaction with the ASCV and they have been part of our support network since then.

It has been almost 2 years since Camila was diagnosed. She was 2 years and 11 months. She had started speech therapy at around 20 months, had a multi-disciplinary assessment at 30 months where the result was a global delay, and then after some continued concerns, she got the ASD diagnosis in May 26, 2014. Just 2 months after her brother Joaquin was born. The result was hard to hear at the time and left us heartbroken and feeling very lonely. However, we did not want to lose time and started working on next steps almost immediately.

The summer of 2017 was a busy time for our family. Figuring out those next steps has been the hardest part of this process.  We were surprised by the lack of medical support to integrate resources. When you first get a diagnosis, you very likely don’t have autistic friends or friends with autistic children or have read a lot about it; that was our situation. We left the doctor’s office only with a list of ABA providers in the area and the recommendation to get speech and occupational therapy. Fortunately, we had an amazing early intervention coordinator and a great pediatrician who gave us the best support and guidance at the beginning of this process. At the same time, we were going through the transition from early intervention to the public-school system and neither of us grew up in the States, so we had plenty to learn about the education system in this country. Despite having a new born and everything going on in our family, we were able to start Speech and Occupational therapy almost right away and after around 4 months of reading, research, phone calls and tours, Camila started ABA therapy in her regular preschool. Our life got much more stable when we had a plan.

Building our support community has also been key in this process. In the fall of 2017 we joined the RVA Family Autism Network on Facebook and began to meet people and make friends who could understand what we were going through. With them, we learned about many more resources and other families’ experiences. Our life got calmer and more enjoyable when we had not only a structured plan to help Camila, but a group of people we could talk to for support and guidance.

Camila has made so much progress since then. She now talks nonstop and can engage in conversation, she can focus on one activity for a time that is age-appropriate, she engages in pretend play frequently and socializes with other kids easily. We are raising her bilingual and she can now communicate in Spanish and English her needs, wants and opinions. She is a happy girl who loves dancing, Moana and playing with her friends and therapists.  It is not easy to deal with autism and many times we run out of patience and are completely exhausted. But we start all over again and try to do our best to understand Camila and learn from every opportunity to help her and the whole family grow.

- The Valencia Berrio Family 

We are excited to share that our 17th annual ASCV 5K & Family Fun Day will take place at Stony Point Fashion Park on Saturday, May 18, 2019. This premier annual ASCV event supports the many programs and services we provide for individuals with autism and their families throughout the year. We look forward to the opportunities our new location and date give us to grow our event, and we look forward to having you and your team join us!

Festivities will include:

        Sensory Friendly Zone             Stony Point Fashion Park Amenities
        Expanded Resource Fair         Enhanced Kids Zone
        On-Stage Entertainment          Chip-Timed, Competitive 5K Run
        Family-Friendly 5K Run/Walk   Kids Fun Run

Register before Feb. 15th to SAVE with Early Bird Prices

If you know of a company or organization that might like to sponsor the event, please reach out to to learn about our many marketing benefits and opportunities for businesses to get involved.
 ASCV February Programs Calendar
Find our entire calendar of events here.​

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

February 10
Bowling outing for children/youth/adults with autism; free for ASCV members; check your email for Eventbrite invitation

February 16
ASCV Sensory Friendly Movie at the Byrd Theatre; 2pm; Carytown

February 22
ASCV Member Winter Pool Party; ASCV members be on the lookout for Eventbrite invitation

February 23
Inclusive Lego & Game Club – Downtown; 10am; details and

February 25
Adults with Asperger’s/HFA Group; 7pm

Parents of Adults with ASD Support Group; 7pm

March 2
Comedy Sportz Improv Workshop for Teens; ASCV members be on the lookout for Eventbrite invitation

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

ASCV March Program
Ten Things You Need to Know about IEPs
Presented by
Tammy Burns, Family Support Specialist, PEATC

Join us on 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:

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. ​
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February Community Calendar
click on links in blue for additional info
King William Little League Challenger Division registration now open; details here:

I'm Determined Youth & Parent Summit; June 12-14; James Madison University; registration open now:

VCU ACE-IT in College Program registration for Fall 2019 open until
March 1; application available here:

Next Move Program- Wells Fargo Session; internship applications due by February 12; application available here:

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

Minds of All Kinds free sensory friendly evening at the Science Museum of Virginia, 4-8pm; see flyer 

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

February 5
Jumpology Special Needs Night, 5pm-7pm; for more information

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

Northstar Career Academy Program, "You’re an Adult, Now What? Legal advice and next steps regarding adult children with disabilities";
details & registration here

February 6
Chesterfield SEAC Meeting at 5:30pm; CTC@Hull, 13900 Hull Street Road,
Midlothian, Room A256 ; for more information:

February 6-10
Reel Abilities Film Festival at Weinstein JCC; see flyer above

February 8
Night to Shine RVA; registration open now:

February 9
Chaterhouse School’s “Courage to Succeed Luncheon”; 11am-1pm;
Charterhouse School Auditorium, 3900 West Broad Street, Richmond;
RSVP by 2/1 to

February 11
Goochland SEAC Meeting at 6pm; Goochland School Board Office,
2938 River Rd West; for more information, call 804-556-5625

February 12
Richmond SEAC Meeting; visit for more information

VCU RRTC Free Webinar: "Twice-exceptional learners with ASD Part 1: Identifying and Supporting Social and Behavioral Needs" presented by Staci Carr & Josh Taylor; 3pm; details & registration:

February 16
VA Reperetory Theatre Sensory Friendly Performance of “Huck and Tom and the Mighty Mississippi”; 10:30am; Willow Lawn Children’s Theatre; details and tickets:

February 19

Next Steps Behavioral Centers Monthly Speaker Series, "The Nuts & Bolts of IEPs" presented by Lisa Wilson Mayfield, M.Ed.; 7:30pm; email
Cindy Ackerman for more info,

February 22
UVA’s Disability Studies Initiative, "From the Mast-head of Autism: Reading Moby- Dick with Tito Mukhopadhyay" by Professor Ralph Savarese; 3-4pm; Bryan Hall, Room 229 at University of VA

February 25
Colonial Heights SEAC Meeting at 6pm; Colonial Heights Technical Center, 3451 Conduit Rd.; for more information, email

February 26
Henrico SEAC Meeting at 6:30pm; Brookland Middle School, 9200 Lydell Dr, Richmond; for more information:

February 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

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