April is National Autism Awareness Month
The ASCV's NAAM plans will look a little different this April. We hope to promote awareness and acceptance by getting creative from our homes!

Here are some fun ideas to participate remotely:

Participate in our NAAM Facebook campaign, What Do You Wish People Knew?

Add the ASCV NAAM Profile Frame to your Facebook profile picture

Share facts about autism
Click here for an autism fact sheet for young children
Click here for an autism fact sheet for teenagers

Read books about autism:
Click here for a list of preschool and elementary school recommendations
Click here for a list of middle/high school recommendations

Find a creative way to spread awareness – create a bulletin board in your home, a sign in your window or yard, or a sidewalk chalk message in your driveway

Host an autism family movie night or a virtual watch party
In addition to the activities we do to promote autism awareness and acceptance, we usually partner with local businesses in April to host events and raise funds to support the ASCV. In lieu of these events, there are ways you can HELP SUPPORT THE ASCV from home:
  • Create a Facebook fundraiser for the ASCV. Share why the ASCV is so important to you, and how the funds you raise will support our local individuals with autism and their families with important programming and resources.
  • Gear up for NAAM while supporting the ASCV!  Purchase a shirt from our Bonfire Campaign and choose from tanks, tees, and cozy sweatshirts.  Youth sizes available.  Now through April 8.
  • Form a team for the ASCV 5K & Family Fun Day (now on August 1 at Stony Point) and fundraise together. Visit www.ASCV5K.org to register.
  • Support us through Amazon Smile and the Kroger Rewards Program.
Executive Director's Message -
Ann Flippin

It is hard to believe it is already April, spring is upon us, and we’re launching into National Autism Awareness Month.  I know these last few weeks have been challenging for everyone with all the uncertainty, disruption from routines, and social distancing.  As I have now been self-quarantining with my family for 18 days, I find myself having to refocus frequently, when I start feeling down, worried, or overwhelmed.  
I try to focus on how grateful I am for precious moments that are rare in my typically bustling routine. I write this sitting on my back deck, enjoying a beautiful spring morning, as my baby sits next to me.  In the seven years I have lived in my house, I have never sat here and enjoyed the sunshine and sounds of nature around me. I hope you too are finding joy in the moments like this too, even if they only last five minutes (mine lasted nine!).
One of our members, Kate Fletcher, recently posted a photo as she and her family enjoyed a beautiful day together out in nature as they practice social distancing.  She shared this quote that I hope will inspire you and remind us all of the important things in life while we have been thrown for a loop!

“The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple  pleasures; and have courage when things go      wrong.” - Laura Ingalls Wilder

I encourage you all to think of this quote whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or discouraged through the weeks ahead.

Even though the ASCV cannot host our in-person programming, our team is staying busy and has been working diligently to deliver much-needed support remotely to our local autism community. 

Our ongoing efforts include:
  • Providing tips, resources and interactive activities through our COVID-19 Resource List, weekly newsletter, and Facebook page
  • Facilitating regular virtual support groups and social clubs
  • Planning virtual workshops, webinars, and collaborations with community partners

Since starting our new virtual programs last week, we have had 54 individuals participate!  Please be sure to reference our Program Calendar regularly to stay up-to-date on our upcoming programs and offerings.

This experience has also reminded me just how strong our autism community is.  While we cannot physically be together, our families have been supporting each other in so many ways, sharing tips, resources, moral support, and comfort that no one is alone in this.  Let’s show the world how strong we are and come together this April for National Autism Awareness Month (NAAM) to spread awareness, promote acceptance, and ignite change!

Throughout the month, we will feature a campaign on our ASCV Facebook page to honor our local autism community.  We’re asking families to share “What do you wish people knew…?” and during April, the ASCV will share their creative responses.  We hope you will join us by submitting a video, photograph, write-up, or art project to info@ascv.org.  There are many ways you can participate with us to celebrate NAAM, and they are highlighted in this newsletter and on our special NAAM website.

Our team is also utilizing this time to plan a wonderful slate of fall programs and events for our community once we are able to be back together. 

​​​​​​​Please save the dates for:
  • 5K & Family Fun Day – Saturday, August 1
  • Building a Spectrum of Opportunity Conference – Saturday, October 3
  • A Toast to the Autism Community Gala – Saturday, November 7

Thank you for being part of our ASCV family! We wish you a wonderful National Autism Awareness Month, and we hope to see you at a virtual program soon!

-Ann Flippin
Executive Director
ASCV Mom Shares Encouragement
in the Midst of COVID-19
Excerpt from Macaroni Kid article by Carissa Garabedian, Mom to 17-Year-Old Marky and Publisher of KnowDifferent & Macaroni Kid Richmond.
This continues to be such an unfamiliar time, I would be lying if I told you I am not struggling. I know I am not alone, and, honestly, that helps me so much. I keep telling myself to be patient, have grace and know that we are in this together. School being canceled for the rest of the year was a lot to digest. I believe it is the best thing for us and we will all be ok, but, friends, I am not a teacher, nor do I know how to schedule a school day for a child with special needs. BUT, in the scheme of things, I will make it work.  I will create a plan, one that allows creativity, one that allows downtime, and one that continues to remind me that this will be temporary, IF we all do our part. 
I am not saying it will be easy, BUT, this is so much bigger than us and it is something so unknown—it is also not forever.  So, let's embrace it together. Stay safe, do the best we can and know that some days will be better than others. Allow ourselves some room for error, create the memories we can with what we have and work together for the goal of flattening the curve.
There are so many great resources we are finding to help us keep our days full, and in ways, our kids can learn in different ways and do different things than we are used to. Let go of what we knew and try to find the fun in what will be for a short time. I have been using cooking as science, board games as math and dancing for some exercise. Here is my banana bread recipe with Marky!

During this unfamiliar time, I encourage everyone to be kind, be patient, and be aware.

Thinking of you all!
- Carissa
CARES Act - Important Disability-Related Items
On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law, a $2 trillion emergency bill to address the economic and public health emergency related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The Autism Society of America worked alongside many other disability organizations to include provisions to support people with autism and their families during this unprecedented emergency.  While the final bill does not contain many of the proposed recommendations, the Autism Society is pleased that a few provisions did make it into the final bill. Among them are protections of the rights to a free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities; the inclusion of small business loans for nonprofits with Medicaid expenditures; a provision allowing direct support professionals to accompany individuals into a hospital; and additional funding for independent living centers. There is also an infusion of funds into state and local health agencies, education agencies, aging and disability resource centers, and independent living centers that can benefit individuals with autism.
We encourage you to read the latest Ignite! Autism Society Policy Newsletter that lists the provisions of the final agreement that impact people with autism and other disabilities and their families. 
For more information, we encourage you to visit the Autism Society’s Action Center for updates, and regularly check the Autism Society's Covid-19 toolkit.

Additional Information & Resources
for Disability Services:

The Arc of Virginia compiled this wonderful Q&A Document about Medicaid Services to help families and individuals navigate available supports during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Next week we will be co-hosting a webinar with The Arc of Virginia that will provide additional helpful information and resources.
DMAS has shared a Virginia Medicaid is Taking Action to Fight COVID-19 document that provides COVID-19 information for Medicaid Members.
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions, including a specific section about Special Education and Student Services. The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) is also available for individual consultations via phone (703-923-0010) or email (partners@peatc.org). 
Autism Incidence Rate Increased to
1 in Every 54 Children

On March 26, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published its biennial prevalence report on the number of children diagnosed with autism, increasing the incidence rate to 1 in 54 from 1 in 59. This represents a nearly 10% increase from the previous rate released in 2018.  These findings draw on data from two separate reports on both eight-year-old and four-year-old children.

While this increase is a concern, it comes as no surprise to us, as the ASCV and our fellow service providers are receiving more requests for support each year.  This growing statistic further emphasizes the continued need for enhanced programs and support services for individuals diagnosed with autism across our nation.

For more information, please read the Autism Society of America’s press release.
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 Barbara Ledford, features the Ledford family's journey. Special thanks to Barbara for contributing to the ASCV's April newsletter!
We are a motley crew! What do you say about a journey with autism that hasn’t already been said? Of course, the reality is what is often said: “You’ve seen one family/ person with autism, you’ve seen one family/person with autism”. So though we all have some similar stories, each journey is unique.

Carter’s infancy was unremarkable. He made all the developmental milestones and was developing speech, putting a few words together. He lost most of this and regressed around 18 months. He started to show the tell tale signs of autism  (toe walking, obsessed with lights and fans, poor eye contact etc.). His pediatrician back then asserted “all was well” and as a result we lost 18 months of intervention. Carter was finally diagnosed on the spectrum May 1998, his 3 rd birthday. At the time I was pregnant with Kyle and Kaitlyn and I don’t think the Developmental Pediatrician had the courage to say “autism” preferring Pervasive Developmental Disorder for fear I would go into labor in her office. PDD, that sounds kinder doesn’t it?

That set a fire under me- I was scared, I had absolutely no idea where to begin. The school district was not very helpful and Children’s Hospital at the time could offer little support. It wasn’t that they were not reputable, it was that there was little support out there. Remember at the time of Carter’s diagnosis, the rate of autism was 1 in 500!

Thankfully, I stumbled on the Autism Society Central Virginia. I remember my first meeting. I had two babies and ended up holding one of them in the back while Dr. Mary Megson did the program that night. Finally, I found a place that had information, support, and HOPE!!!

Thus started my connection with ASCV, and it has been one of the great blessings in our life. Here are the top ten ways ASCV has been there for us (in no particular order):

1. ASCV gave me the platform to advocate on the state level for my son and for all those on the autism spectrum. This empowered me. Everyday I am faced with autism, over which I have little control. To be able to educate legislators about the disorder gave me hope for Carter’s future, as well as other’s like him.

2. ASCV gave me information about the DD Waiver, Navigating IEP meetings, Applying for SSI benefits, Guardianship, Housing for people for Developmental Disabilities, Customized Reimbursement Rates, Community Coaching, Resources in the community- the list goes on and on! I am not sure I would have been able to care for Carter all these years without the Waiver,
and being able to get the benefits for him that he needs was made much easier because of the information ASCV gave me.

3. ASCV gave me an opportunity to meet other families who “get it”. As one of my favorite people says “Those who know, know”. Some of my closest friends are mommies of people with autism. Not having to explain my life, but just to be able to vent and have someone understand is PRICELESS!

4. ASCV provided opportunities for our family to be together with other families to engage in “normal family activities”. Realize we “grew up” in a time where there wasn’t other community programing available for special needs families. We clung to the Spring Member Picnic, the “Tacky Light Tour”, Holiday parties at the Science Museum, the 5K and Sibshops to name a few.

5. ASCV gave my other “neurotypical” kids an opportunity to see they are not alone. Literally, Kyle and Kaitlyn have grown up in ASCV. Seeing other families like ours helped them recognize that the “crazy” they experience behind closed doors is not uncommon. I am also grateful that they were able to share their experience twice at the Sibling panel workshops. Though it may have been helpful to others, it was also empowering for them. To be able to voice their struggles, the times when they wished mom would have done things differently, the good things about having a sibling with autism, all of it was so important for them on their own developmental journey.

6. ASCV gave me a great opportunity to tell everyone I know about the great work they do. In raising money for the 5K I am able to use my “big mouth” for good and have the privilege of spreading awareness of their mission and all the lives they touch.

7. ASCV gives me opportunities to celebrate Carter. The Winter Pool Party, the 5K, Trunk or Treat, The Pumpkin Patch, the Holiday Party are times when I am able to bask in the beautiful human he is, so uniquely created and I see the lives he touches daily. Carter has changed lives of people I have never met in his short 24 years, just because of his special ways, his smile, his humor, and
his interest in connecting with others. I am blessed to be his mom.

8. ASCV provided an arena to be inspired by others. Bradford Hulcher, Bambi Gladfelter, Mary Miller, Holly Jenkins, Tammy Burns, Holly Aldridge, Dilshad Ali, Ann Flippin, Staci Carr Susini to name a few, and SOOO many more, for all they have done and continue to do, they are my HEROS!

9. ASCV gives me hope. I see all the changes, all the new initiatives, all the exciting opportunities being created by the fabulous ASCV team. The organization has grown by leaps and bounds to keep up with the overwhelming need. It amazes me everyday to see the things ASCV is doing!

10. ASCV gives me an opportunity to pay it forward. I will always be connected to ASCV. I will do most anything for this organization because they have given so much to me.

Thank you ASCV for all you have done and continue to do. I am more grateful than words can say.
ASCV Programs Have Gone Virtual!
For more information and to sign up for our virtual programs, please visit our ASCV Program Calendar. If you have suggestions for programming that would be beneficial for you and/or your family, please click here to take our survey.
Virtual Workshop Tonight!
The ASCV has teamed up with the Autism Success Foundation, SpectrumWise College Consulting and the Cameron K. Gallagher Mental Health Resource Center at VTCC for this special virtual workshop geared toward identifying community resources for students with ASD who plan to transition to college.

Please join us tonight (April 1st) at 6:30pm. The event is accessible online via the Zoom platform at this link:

Meeting ID: 804 828 3999
Call in option: 888 788 0099 US Toll-free
ASCV 2020 5K & Family Fun Day
  ASCV Bonfire T-shirt Campaign
  ASCV Conference 
 ASCV Virtual Programs for April
 If you have any questions about our virtual programming, please email us at info@ascv.org 
April 1
Virtual Support Group for Caregivers of Children with ASD Ages
12:30-1:30pm; details & registration: 

April 2
Virtual Inclusive Lego & Game Club; 10-11:30am; details & registration: 

April 4
Virtual ASCV Sibshop; 10am-12pm; details & registration: 

April 7
ASCV Member Event: Virtual Teen Social Groups; members receive Eventbrite invitation via email

April 8
Virtual Support Group for Caregivers of Children with ASD Ages
0-10; 12:30-1:30pm; details & registration: 

Virtual Support Group for Caregivers of Adults with ASD; 4-5pm; details & registration: https://virtualascvadultcaregiverssgapr8.eventbrite.com 

April 9
Virtual Support Group for Caregivers of Teens with ASD; 2-3pm; details & registration: https://virtualascvteencaregiverssgapr9th.eventbrite.com

April 13
Virtual ASCV Adult Social Group; 7-8pm; details & registration: https://virtualascvadultgrpapr13.eventbrite.com

April 14
ASCV Member Event: Virtual Teen Social Groups; members receive Eventbrite invitation via email

April 15
Virtual Support Group for Caregivers of Children with ASD Ages
0-10; 12:30-1:30pm; details & registration: 

April 16
Virtual Inclusive Lego & Game Club; 10-11:30am; details & registration: https://virtualascvlegoclubapr16.eventbrite.com

April 18
Virtual ASCV Sibshop; 10am-12pm; details & registration: 

April 21
ASCV Member Event: Virtual Teen Social Groups; members receive Eventbrite invitation via email

April 22
Virtual Support Group for Caregivers of Children with ASD Ages
0-10; 12:30-1:30pm; details & registration: 

Virtual Support Group for Caregivers of Adults with ASD; 4-5pm; details & registration: https://virtualascvadultcaregiverssgapr22.eventbrite.com

April 23
Virtual Support Group for Caregivers of Teens with ASD; 2-3pm; details & registration: https://virtualascvteencaregiverssgapr23rd.eventbrite.com

April 27
Virtual ASCV Adult Social Group; 7-8pm; details & registration:

April 28
ASCV Member Event: Virtual Teen Social Groups; members receive Eventbrite invitation via email

April 29
Virtual Support Group for Caregivers of Children with ASD Ages
0-10; 12:30-1:30pm; details & registration: 

 Virtual Community Calendar & Information for April 
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. ​

Chesterfield County Libary Storytime on Facebook Live; Daily at 10:30am EST; click here to view: https://www.facebook.com/ChesterfieldVALibrary/

Lunch Doodles with children's author, Mo Willems; posted daily at 1pm EST; click here to view: https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/mo-willems/

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden "Home Safari Facebook Live"; Daily at 3pm EST; click here to view: https://www.facebook.com/cincinnatizoo/ 

AnswersNow Parent Support University on Facebook Live; every Wednesday at 7pm; click here to view: 

Henrico County Public Library Storytime on Facebook Live; Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10:30am & Tuesdays at 6:30pm; click here to view: https://www.facebook.com/HenricoLibrary/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
April 1
Autism Society of America on Facebook Live: "Life with Autism During COVID-19" featuring Russell Lehmann and Kyle Weiss; 7pm EST; click here to view: https://www.facebook.com/AutismSociety/

Friendship Circle Webinar: "Coping with all the kids at home!" presented by Debbie Fromer, Ph.D; 8:30pm; click here to view: 

April 2
PEATC Webinar: "Crisis Time Schooling at Home for Students with Disabilities" presented by Kathy Kuhl; 7pm; details & registration: 

UVA STAR Virtual Live Event: "Juggling Work and School at Home" with Gail Lovette, PhD and Rose Nevill, PhD, BCBA; 8pm; details & registration: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07egzu9idw49a1afe6&oseq=&c=&ch=

April 7
Neurodiversity In The Workplace: Career Development Expo and Webinar; 3-5pm EST; details & registration: 

April 21
Disability Virtual Career Fair; 9am-6pm EST; details & registration: 

April 25
PEATC Family Engagement Summit- "It Takes A Village: Partnering For Student Success;" details & registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2020-family-engagement-summit-registration-88155277809

 Upcoming Registrations
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. ​
Easterseals Camp Fairlee Summer Camps; details & registration: 

Weinstein Jewish Community Center Voices Together Summer Camp Registration opens February 3rd; for more information: Contact Melissa Bunce, Director of Inclusion and Support Services at 
mbunce@weinsteinjcc.org or 545-8658, or Andrea Costanzo, Voices Together Camp Director, at acostanzo@weinsteinjcc.org

Next Move Summer Session: University of Richmond Internship; applications close on April 24; details here: 

PEATC Online Course: Early Childhood Academy; April 26-May 29; details & registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2020-early-childhood-academy-registration-93502954855

2020 Move Summit- designed for African American male youth in Virginia with disabilities ages 13-21, and their parent(s); July 19-21 at Virginia State University; details & application: https://www.imdetermined.org/move/
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.
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