Tips for New Families

Families of children who have just received a diagnosis of autism can be overwhelmed thinking about what to do next. They have a lot of information to sift through, including advice from professionals and various websites, blogs, and social media sites. If you are a parent, the following resources are a great place to start.…

Fire Safety Tips

Fire safety is important for everyone, but particularly important for individuals with disabilities and those with limited communication skills. Here are some tips and resources to support people with disabilities. Use Visuals The National Fire Protection Assocation recommends creating a storybook to help indivdiuals with special needs understand what fire is and why it can…

Commonwealth Autism accredited by Standards for Excellence Institute

Commonwealth Autism recently received the Standards for Excellence Institute’s Seal of Excellence for successfully completing their rigorous accreditation program. Commonwealth Autism voluntarily opened itself to analysis by a peer review team over the last 18 months that examined the organization’s compliance with the Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector. These standards cover…

Toddlers and the ADOS

There are indications that the emphasis on early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder has produced important positive changes in screening and diagnostic practices. Universal autism screening leads to earlier referral for evaluation, earlier age of diagnosis, and earlier initiation of appropriate, autism-specific interventions (Valicenti-McDermott, 2016). Along with these changes have come questions about how early…

Building Partnerships: A primer

By John A. Toscano, MSW, MBA President and Chief Executive Officer In the wide-ranging field of human services, we have a positive bias towards partnering. Our field is replete with many forms of mutual working, i.e. coalitions, consortiums, alliances, networks, information sharing, cooperation, coordination and collaboration. I believe this emanates from our shared belief that…

New Partnership with Northstar Academy

Local Educational Programs Announce Partnership  The Founders Center and Northstar Academy collaborating to serve children with special education needs. For Immediate Release Two Richmond-based educational programs began a collaborative partnership this week that will help maximize opportunities for children with special education needs. Northstar Academy, a private nonprofit school in Henrico County, will host a school-age…

Encouraging Communication

By Rachel Reynolds, MA, CCC-SLP, BCaBA, LaBA For children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disabilities, oral communication skills are often delayed. When a child is unable to communicate effectively with his or her environment, this often leads to frustration and (sometimes) challenging behavior. However, with proactive, language based interventions, children can…

RBT Supervision Success

By Amanda Buchmeier, M.S., BCBA, LBA Registered Behavior Technicians are required to be supervised for 5% of the hours spent providing behavior-analytic services per month. ​Here are five strategies for making the most of that time and setting supervision up for success: Use a Supervision Contract At the onset of supervision, review and sign a…

Building Rapport With Staff

By Amanda Buchmeier, M.S., BCBA, LBA As behavior analysts, much of our time is spent providing coaching and training to the staff responsible for implementing behavioral interventions. Direct care staff may have limited knowledge of the principles of applied behavior analysis and the use of behavior analytic strategies; therefore, we may need to change staff behavior in order to change clients’ behavior. Taking the time to build rapport with staff before…