Monday, May 21, 2018

ALIST Spotlight-- Brittany Sword, Valley Elementary, Beavercreek

Another one of our fabulous new inductees into our ALIST (Autism and Low Incidence Support Team) is Brittany Sword at Valley Elementary in Beavercreek City Schools. Prior to our coaching, Brittany already had tons of great supports for her students already in place. There is evidence of best practice teaching everywhere you look in Brittany's classroom so we have so many great ideas to share in today's ALIST Spotlight.

Brittany has done an excellent job arranging her room with clear physical boundaries to help students know where they need to be and to help limit wandering.

Brittany increases this physical structure using flexible dividers which is a wonderful support for students who struggle to stay in the designated learning area or who may be easily distracted by the sensory-rich classroom environment.

In addition to physical supports, Brittany uses location-based interactive visual schedules to help students with transitions and to provide the expectation of where they need to be. Students take a schedule card off their schedules and place them in the cup at the corresponding location.

Her schedules are some of the most well differentiated schedules we have ever seen! Difficulty ranges from matching color cards to the schedule location color, matching picture icons, or matching words. 

Brittany is also a master at differentiating learning activities. For her circle time, Brittany uses the Interactive Calendar Activities from Autism Adventures. These activities range from a simple calendar book, a calendar file folder, or a daily calendar worksheet. The floor desks are a great tool for students who are sitting at circle time and need a surface for completing activities. 

Another way Brittany differentiates is through use of the STAR Program. The STAR program provides monthly thematic activities which Brittany modifies further to meet her student needs. Brittany's students are learning higher level vocabulary through activities they can easily access. For one planet lesson, students matched pictures through individual cards or a velcro worksheet or matching words to pictures through a file folder or a velcro worksheet. Students were engaged and excited and Brittany shared that she provides students with multiple opportunities to work on these activities to increase their understanding.

Brittany's use of the STAR Program carries over to her calendar time through correlating visual supports for the calendar numbers.

Brittany also uses visual supports to communicate activity expectations through the use of visual routines or mini-schedules.

This mini-schedule is used when students work independently in the structured work system area. Students match the picture icon to the corresponding bin or baggy to collect their work tasks for the day.

Visual supports are great for staff too! We love these great fine motor bins that can be used as morning work or anchor activities. The pocket chart shows which bin each student is working on and the easy lesson plan outlines the assigned activities for each day for quick resetting of the pocket chart.

We were also impressed with how effectively Brittany incorporates continuous reinforcement for her students who need frequent motivators. At the start of an activity, the student chooses a toy to work for. The basket has all of their favorite toys so that they are portable and easy for staff to access. While working, the student removes a penny token for every repetition completed. Tasks include materials from the STAR Program, imitation activities, and taskbox activities such as the pictured lunch tray activity. After all 5 pennies are removed, the student gets to play with the chosen toy for several minutes before the sequence is repeated. This quick succession of repetitions and reinforcement makes work time productive and motivating. 

Despite the quick pace of 1:1 instruction and variety of differentiated tasks completed during group time, Brittany also keeps up on her progress monitoring using these awesome data sheets. 

With all of these fantastic supports in place it is evident why Brittany is a great fit for our ALIST!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

ALIST Spotlight: Keelin DiMuccio, Fairbrook Elementary

With a newly inducted group of fabulous educators to our ALIST this week, we have tons of great resources to share with you. Today we want to shine our ALIST Spotlight on Intervention Specialist Keelin DiMuccio at Fairbrook Elementary in Beavercreek.

We had the pleasure of coaching Keelin this year as she got started with a new classroom of young learners with autism and low-incidence disabilities. Keelin truly rose to the occasion with this new position and we had so much fun coaching someone who was so eager to implement new strategies! Keelin was an excellent collaborator and problem-solver. 

Check out some of the great supports we spotted in action in Keelin's room!

Visual Supports
Keelin used visual supports to help communicate expectations for her students. We love this simple First-Then board for showing a student what work was expected to earn a sensory bin break. 

Keelin also used visual supports to manage student transitions with these great line-up spots.

Data Collection
Keelin is a master data collector! Her monitoring is thorough and comprehensive. We enjoyed sharing our ABC Data Collection sheet to be paired with the Emotion Cue Cards for Staff.

Sensory Supports
Doesn't this calming sensory space look great!? We loved to see how Keelin dedicated a corner of her classroom to providing calming sensory breaks for her students. We also love the options provided of a bean bag break or tent time.

This was a new support for us! Keelin had a student who responded well to a sensory roller at home so she decided to carry over this support in the classroom. What a wonderful way to provide consistent sensory supports across environments.

Keelin did an excellent job differentiating her circle time seating to meet the needs of her students. The adapted seating options included cube chairs, student chairs, rocking chairs, and even a cube chair wrapped in a body sock.

Another tool we helped Keelin with was a sensory choice folder. Sometimes students may be resistant to trying new sensory supports. Providing choices through a sensory choice folder and proactively embedding multiple opportunities to make these choices throughout the day is a great way to keep students regulated.

Thanks to Keelin for sharing all of her awesome supports and welcome to our ALIST!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

2018 ALIST Inductees

It is with great pleasure that we have recognized and inducted 7 new members into the Miami Valley Autistm/Low-Incidence Coaching Team’s “A-LIST”. Our A-LIST stands for Autism-Low Incidence Support Team and is comprised of a regional network of select professionals who exhibit “best practices” in serving the needs of students who have autism or other complex, low incidence disabilities.

Our A-LIST began in 2012 in an effort to recognize outstanding individuals who had exceeded the high expectations of our coaching process, and who represented the best that our region had to offer to students with disabilities. Only a fraction of of the educators we coach each year are nominated. The A-LIST truly represents the BEST professionals in our region.

The goal of the Miami Valley Autism Coaching Team is to build the capacity of our region’s administrators, teachers, intervention specialists, related service providers, and paraprofessionals to serve children with autism and other complex disabilities. The A-LIST serves a critical role in that mission by maintaining a multi-disciplinary network of outstanding practitioners across all 6 counties we serve. We often refer our coaching teams to our A-LIST members for practical, “in the trenches” perspectives, advice, and occasional modeling of best practices.

The 2018 ALIST Inductees include:

Karyn Smith
Intervention Specialist
Tri-Village High School
Tri-Village School District

Heather Costa
Speech and Language Pathologist
Bradford Elementary and Tri-Village High School
Darke County ESC

Keelin DiMuccio
Intervention Specialist
Fairbrook Elementary
Beavercreek City School District

Megan Gilley
Occupational Therapist
Fairbrook Elementary
Beavercreek City School District

Brittany Sword
Intervention Specialist
Valley Elementary
Beavercreek City School District

Jackie Vollmer
Intervention Specialist
Driscoll Elementary
Centerville City Schools

Kelly Sewell
1st Grade Teacher
Kleptz Early Learning Center
Northmont City Schools

Monday, May 14, 2018

Save the Date!-- Upcoming 2018-2019 ACT Team PD Sessions


Moderate-Intensive Intervention Specialist Academy

Thursday, August 9th, 8:30-3:30

Friday, September 14th, 8:30-3:30

Tuesday, October 30th, 8:30-3:30

This 3-Part Learning Series presented by members of the Miami Valley Regional Center’s ACT and EAT teams  is targeted toward intervention specialists who recently started working in a moderate-intensive needs setting. Session topics will include classroom organization, managing paraprofessionals, behavior management, sensory supports, hearing/vision impairments, autism, AAC, and writing IEPs to document student growth. To register:

Curriculum Mapping and Cross-Curricular Unit Planning for the Extended Ohio Academic Content Standards

Friday, August 31st, 8:30-3:30

Friday, October 26th, 8:30-3:30

Wednesday, December 12th, 8:30-3:30

Friday, March 8th, 8:30-3:30

During these quarterly interactive work sessions presented, participants will be provided a framework for curriculum mapping and cross-curricular unit planning for the Extended Ohio Academic Content Standards. Ample time will be given for unit creation and collaboration.

Communication and Social Skill Development at School: A Team Approach

Friday, September 28th, 8:30-3:30

During this hands-on interactive session, teams consisting of speech and language pathologists and intervention specialists will present strategies and evidence-based practices for facilitating the generalization of social-emotional and communication skills in a variety of educational settings using a collaborative team approach. Time will be provided for participant teams to collaborate, plan, and get feedback from the presenters.


Handwriting Issues in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Friday, February 22nd, 8:30-11:30

Many students with autism struggle with the skill of completing written assignments in the school setting.  This session will focus on strategies for helping students with ASD decrease their frustration and increase their success with written expression tasks in their school setting.

Merrily We Roll Along: Removing Obstacles on the Social Emotional Learning Path for Young Learners

Friday, February 22nd, 12:30-3:30

Participants in this sessions will engage in activities to gain a better  understanding of the five categories of social emotional competence: self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship awareness and responsible decision making.  The session will also review a variety of evidence based strategies for supporting the development of these critical skills, with an emphasis on young learners, grades Pre-K through 3.

Collaborate to Calm Your Classroom: A Team Approach to Sensory Modulation and Self-Management Skill Development at School

Friday, April 12th, 8:30-3:30

During this hands-on interactive session, an intervention specialist and occupational therapist will assist educational teams in developing a collaborative implementation plan to facilitate internal regulation and self-management skills in the classroom setting.  A variety of tools and calming strategies will be shared for both individuals and groups of students.

Montgomery County Regional Center
Dayton, OH 45431
4801 Springfield Street

The Registration fee is waived for all districts contracted with the Autism Coaching Team (ACT).

Register information coming in August 2018!

Contact Mary Fryman at or 937-236-9965 x 2122


Subscribe to PD Announcements from ACT Team

Monday, May 7, 2018

Upcoming Professional Development-- Moderate/Intensive Intervention Specialist Academy

Moderate/Intensive Intervention Specialist Academy
A Three-Part Training Series

Presented by the Miami Valley Regional Center's EAT and ACT Teams
Sponsored by: Western Ohio Service Collaborative (WOSC)

Session I - August 9, 2018

  • Strategies for Organizing the Special Needs Classroom
  • Managing Paraprofessionals: Tips and Strategies for the Intervention Specialist
  • Proactive Behavior Management for the Intervention Specialist
  • Addressing Interfering Behaviors through Sensory Supports

Session II - September 14, 2018

  • Strategies for Working with Students with Vision Impairments
  • Strategies for Working with Students with Hearing Impairments
  • Autism 101
  • Strategies for Organizing the Special Needs Classroom (Repeat Session) or Questions and Answer Session with presenters

Session III - October 30, 2018

  • Facilitating Expressive communication Through the use of Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC)
  • Writing IEPs to Document Student Growth Including Collaborative Goals/Objectives
  • Proactive Behavior Management for the Intervention Specialist (Repeat) or Question and Answer Session with presenters
  • Concluding Session and Wrap-up

This 3-day training series is intended for new Intervention Specialists or those new to the Moderate-Intensive setting and will be held at the Miami Valley Regional Center, 4801 Springfield Street, Dayton, OH 45431.

The Registration fee is waived for all districts contracted with the Autism Coaching Team (ACT) or the Educational Assessment Team (EAT). For non-contracted districts, the registration fee is $50 per day ($150 for full three-day series) through the Western Ohio Service Collaborative. Send check or PO to the Miami County ESC, 2000 West Stanfield Rd., Troy, OH 45373. Participants will receive a 5-hour Certificate of Attendance for each day of attendance. 

For registration information and session descriptions, go to: Registration Deadline: August 1st, 2018.

Contact Information
For more information or questions, contact the EAT or ACT departments at the Miami Valley Regional Center (937)236-9965 or email or

If you are unable to attend, you must cancel in advance to avoid being charged. This training is being offered through the Montgomery County ESC and the Western Ohio Service Collaborative.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Organization Station-- Waiting and Taking Turns

Students with autism and other social communication disabilities often struggle with waiting and taking turns during activities and games. These students often need these skills directly taught because they struggle to pick them up in the context of these social activities. Today's Organization Station focuses on strategies for teaching waiting and turn taking skills to help these students be more successful.

When directly teaching social skills, Carol emphasizes using the 4 Pillars of Performance--Practice, Prim, Prompt, and Praise.

To start, practice waiting and turn taking in a structured, predictable setting to reduce frustration. For some students, you may need to start with 1:1 sessions and gradually add additional practice partners to start generalizing these skills. Once the student shows success in a structured setting, begin practicing in naturally occurring locations. Sometimes, these skills can be addressed through class-wide structural supports that make turn taking more predictable.

We love this visual for remembering whose turn it is in a preschool classroom. The push pin moves daily to determine who the helper will be.

Jessica Burns
Demmitt Elementary, Vandalia

For some activities, everyone may get a turn but visual supports are needed to determine the order. A fun way is the use of turn taking sticks. All of the sticks can be mixed up in a container and the teacher can build anticipation and engagement through shaking up the container and choosing a stick. When their turn is over, students can choose the next student to go which is a great way to work on identifying peer names.

When staff anticipates the student will need to wait or take turns, they should prime the student to prepare them. Remind them of the strategies that have been practiced and present any priming visual supports that have been directly taught.

Carol developed a "WAIT" card that can be used to prime students when waiting in line, when waiting for their turn to speak, or when waiting for their turn during an activity. The back of the card lists strategies that have been directly taught to the student to help them cope with waiting. This can be presented to the student beforehand to prime them. The front of the card can be used to prompt the student in the moment to remind them to use their strategies.

Visual supports can also be used to subtly prompt students in the moment.

This great visual tool can be held by students while they are waiting to keep their hands busy and prevent them from grabbing materials or game pieces.
Taylor Ruef
Stevenson Elementary, Mad River Local Schools

The staff in Christine Scarborough's class at Tecumseh Elementary use these simple visuals to cue students when playing games. The yellow paper says "wait" and prompts students to stay seated while the green paper says "go" to let the student know when it is their turn.
Christine Scarborough
Tecumseh Elementary, Xenia

Once a skill has been directly taught, students should be praised and reinforced for using the skill during practice sessions and within the naturally occurring locations.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Around Town Round Up-- Calendar & Circle Time

A staple in many classrooms is morning Calendar & Circle Time. This is a great daily activity to work on important life skills vocabulary like the months, weather, seasons, and days of the week. It also provides tons of opportunities for practicing math skills like counting, patterns, and temperature. The possibilities are endless for structuring this important learning time so we have found some of our favorites across the Miami Valley to share in today's Around Town Round Up.

This calendar display incorporates 3D shapes, place value, tens frams, time, number writing/sequencing, tallies, and graphing. What a great way to get daily practice of all of these skills in a busy 1st grade classroom!
Megan Kelly
Beavertown Elementary, Kettering

We love all of the skills covered on this calendar display including dates, days of the week, months, graphing, communication skills of answering questions and greetings, seasons and weather, and attendance. What a great interactive display!
Sara Moore
Warder Park Wayne, Springfield

This display is one of our favorites because it is on a portable divider which can be moved or turned around so that the visuals are not distracting throughout the day.
Ramel Mitchell
Kyle Elementary, Troy

We love how this calendar practices patterns using buildings.
Brittany Sword
Valley Elementary, Beavercreek

For older students, we love these age-appropriate displays.

Carrie Prickett
Jane Chance Elementary, Miamisburg

Robbie Whorton
Trotwood Madison High School, Trotwood

Sometimes, students struggle to remain on task during Circle Time. They may need visual supports to take turns or for following along. 
Tabitha Eaton
Main Elementary, Beavercreek
Amy Beanblossom
Arcanum-Butler Elementary, Arcanum

Anne Rosenbaum
Orchard Park Elementary, Kettering

We love these interactive boards for choosing exercises and songs during Circle Time.
Brittany Bush
Spinning Hills Middle School, Mad River Local Schools

This interactive Morning Message is a great way to practice close reading and writing while priming students on the date, learning theme, group activity, and lunch for the day.
Taylor Ruef
Stevenson Elementary, Mad River Local Schools

This student has an independent task of recording the weather and temperature for each day of the school week. This is a great independent living skill to practice.
Jennifer Jette
Vandalia-Butler High School, Vandalia