AUTISM- Always Unique Totally Interesting Sometimes Mysterious

Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, which adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual response to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance. A child who manifests the characteristics of Autism after age three could be diagnosed as having Autism if the criteria in this definition are satisfied.

Overview of Services

The mission of the Autism Program in Prince William County is to provide a structured teaching environment for all students with Autism that will nurture a variety of educational strategies supporting each student's IEP, the Standards of Learning and Aligned Standards of Learning. Every student will engage in meaningful educational opportunities that will promote independent skills for life at school, home and within their community.

Since Autism is a spectrum disorder, students with Autism vary widely in skill level. It is very important that a special education program be "child specific" and individualized to meet his/her needs.

The Office of Special Education offers a full continuum of special education services for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder:

  • Regular class with special education support (Autism Resource: Students who require less than 50% of special education services) - Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder who participate in regular education for academic instruction but require specialized instruction in social skills and work habits/organizational skills.
  • Special class with or without participation in regular classes - (special setting for students who require more than 49% of special education services and whose disability prevents the completion of curriculum based on the Standards of Learning despite having program supports and accommodations).

    Public separate school (elementary, middle and high school classes at Independent Hill School) for students who require a more restrictive placement to provide intensive instructional support in communication, behavioral supports, and life skills.

Similar placement options are available for preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Related Links & Downloads

Required Training Standards for Paraprofessionals of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

In April 2012, the General Assembly passed House Bill 325, which sets forth training standards for paraprofessionals who work with a teacher who has primary oversight of students with ASD. By September 2014, paraprofessionals must receive training in student behavior management within 60 days of assignment to such responsibility. Virginia Commonwealth University-Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE) offers an online course that meets these requirements. The online course is approximately 15 hours and offers intensive training on aspects of ASD. The May and June classes are already full, so register NOW for the July or August offerings before they fill to capacity!

For more information, please visit the VCU Autism Center for Excellence webpage.

Administrative Contact

Kate Johnson, Supervisor
[email protected]

Sonia Cate, Administrative Assistant II
[email protected]