P.O. BOX 2120
April 6, 2001

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Study of Autism Spectrum Disorders

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has contracted with the Virginia Institute for Developmental Disabilities (VIDD) at Virginia Commonwealth University to conduct a study requested by the 2000 General Assembly (HJR 228) of the services available for children with autism spectrum disorders. VDOE is serving as the lead agency responsible for this study. Other agencies sharing responsibility include the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services. The results will be used to guide state policy and improve services for children with autism spectrum disorders. Through HJR 228, all agencies of the commonwealth are directed to provide assistance for this study.

Four different surveys will be disseminated directly to special education directors in each school division. These surveys target special education directors, special education teachers, related services personnel, and parents of children with autism spectrum disorders. Special education directors participating on the State Special Education Council have supported the dissemination of materials in this manner and have provided information about the study to colleagues at their regional directors meetings. All surveys and procedures have been reviewed and approved by the Virginia Department of Education and the VCU Institutional Review Board. Participation in the surveys is voluntary and all responses will remain anonymous.

In order for the study to be completed as scheduled, all surveys must be finished by May 11, 2001. Therefore, it is imperative that the materials mailed to each school division be distributed as quickly as possible. To ensure the utility of the findings, we need to hear from as many people across the commonwealth as possible. We will appreciate the cooperation of you and your staff in assuring maximum participation. If you have questions about this request, or the study, please contact Stacy Dymond, study director, VIDD, at 804/828-3718,, or Patricia Abrams, VDOE, at 225-2707, ( Thank you.