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We strive to create an atmosphere that promotes independence and self-determination. Every aspect of instruction is based in research and evidence-based practices. To address students’ challenges in communication, social skills and repetitive behaviors, we ensure that:

  1. Every student has a way to communicate.
  2. Every student has many social opportunities at school and in the community.
  3. We use a comprehensive approach to behavior that supports socially appropriate behavior and for those students that require it, individualized behavior plans that teach appropriate behaviors while addressing maladaptive behaviors.

Communication and social opportunities begin as soon as the student arrives at the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism. We offer fully integrated speech and language services through an on-staff Speech-Language Pathologist. Social interactions are not only available in specific time blocks, but are integrated throughout the day.

Each new student receives a comprehensive assessment across a broad range of skills including: attending, listening, speaking, matching, imitating, reading, writing, math, communication, physical and social. We work with the parents and placing agency to design an individualized academic and behavioral plan. As these plans are implemented we take data on a daily basis and use that information to make decisions as to what beneficial changes may be made to programming.

We believe that every child has hope for a bright future. At the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism, our main goal is to equip students with the skills to lead full and independent lives.

Recent News

Groundbreaking

Construction begins on new Sarah Dooley Center home

St. Joseph's Villa began a new chapter in its 185-year history as we launched construction on the home of our new Sarah Dooley Center for Autism. With the help of

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Defeating the isolation of autism - one proven method at a time

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial by Adam Dreyfus, Senior Director, Sarah Dooley Center for Autism at St. Joseph's Villa April is National Autism Awareness Month, and while science still has unanswered questions around

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Autism Heart

Living With A Severe Case Of Autism

The spectrum disorder known as autism includes three levels - mild, moderate, and severe. Every child with autism requires care, support, and supervision, but a child with severe autism has

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