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Website Treasure-trove for Autism Grandparents

I have discovered a wonderful website resource for everyone involved with autism: the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence: www.vcuautismcenter.org. I attended a recent Zoom meeting during which the Center’s Technical Assistance Coordinator, Dr. Staci Carr, provided a tour of the Center’s website offerings.


Although it is common for autism parents to be so consumed with daily challenges that they don’t have time to explore autism books and websites, we autism grandparents often do have time for that. And such research is something that we can contribute to our grandchildren’s families.


My five-year-old granddaughter still has trouble washing her hands correctly and thoroughly. Among the 34 “How To” videos on the Center’s website is one entitled, “Teaching Handwashing.” Other How To videos include “Asking for Help,” “Saying No,” “Transitioning,” and “Visual Supports” – all of which are relevant to my granddaughter.


The Center’s website offers twice-monthly, Zoom “Lunch and Learn” sessions. A forthcoming session is likely relevant to all autism family members: “Understanding Autism as an Information Processing Disorder.”


(And by the way, everything offered on the Center’s website is free. And there are no sales pitches.)


The Center offers a lot of online courses – many geared especially for educators, but some specifically for families. One that I recommend for grandparents is entitled “The Parent Playbook.” It’s a self-paced course that provides an extremely comprehensive introduction to autism.


The Center also offers online seminars – all presented by experts. Two that caught my eye are entitled, “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Employment,” and “Communication.”


And there are webcasts. One that all of us autism grandparents should view is entitled, “Introduction to the Hidden Curriculum.” It addresses many of the social skills that are not taught as part of the formal curriculum in schools: taking turns in play, understanding body language, etc.


And finally, in the Research section of the website are scholarly articles by noted experts, such as “Teaching teamwork to adolescents with autism: the cooperative use of activity schedules,” by Write, Hoffman, Hoch, and Taylor.


Dr. Staci Carr, with nearly 30 years experience working with autism, is one of 28 professional staff members listed and described on the website. (And she responds to e-mails!)


I suspect that all autism grandparents will find information of personal benefit on the website of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center for Excellence: www.vcuautismcenter.org.

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