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COVID-19 Response Plan at SDCA

Posted on March 18, 2020
UPDATE (Monday, March 23): In compliance with Governor Northam's decision, Sarah Dooley Center for Autism will be closed for the remainder for the 2019-2020 school year. We will communicate more information in the days to come. UPDATE (Monday, March 16): As we continue to take every measure to protect the health and well-being of our community, all Sarah Dooley Center for Autism staff will work remotely with email access through Sunday, March ...Read More

5 Autism School Services Every Parent Should Look For

Posted on December 19, 2019
A good school for autism will meet your child’s academic, emotional, and social needs. However, you also want to ensure that the school offers five essential services. These services offer a wide range of assistance for children from preschool to age 21 or older. The 5 Essential Autism School Services Autism school services prioritize your child’s needs, meet your child’s unique functional issues, and equip your child for future success. ...Read More

8 Factors To Consider When Selecting An Autism School

Posted on December 5, 2019
The right school nurtures a child with autism and helps him or her thrive. With specialized supports and other helpful tools, this educational setting can meet your child’s academic, behavioral, social, and other needs and prepare him or her for life as an adult. For these reasons, you may decide to select a specialty school for your child, but choosing the best school for autism can be challenging, especially since ...Read More

Joey expanded his horizons at SDCA

Posted on October 10, 2019
Every school day used to be the same for Joey. He would come to school with a very fixed set of interests, and when those were taken away, he would respond with severe, aggressive behaviors. Trusting relationships weren’t part of his experience. Then Joey began at the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism at St. Joseph’s Villa. With the encouragement of his teacher, John Bellows, Joey soon realized that school could ...Read More

How to Prepare for Your IEP Meeting [Checklist]

Posted on October 10, 2019
Caregivers of children with autism often become experts in areas they’d never considered before. If there’s one thing they become intimately acquainted with, it’s their child’s individualized education plan (IEP). IEPs take into account a child’s social, cognitive and occupational abilities, and identify a plan to help a child reach particular goals. Formulating a good IEP involves school personnel and special evaluators, as well as the child’s caregivers. IEP Meeting ...Read More

Construction begins on new Sarah Dooley Center home

Posted on June 5, 2019
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 Odell architects and contractor Daniel & Company, the 24,000 sq. ft. Dooley School building will be transformed into a state-of-the-art facility that combines pioneering education, therapy, research, training, and community partnership. The Virginia Department of Education reports that the number ...Read More

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

Posted on May 3, 2019
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 what causes autism, there is much we do understand. We know what autism is; we know how to treat it; and we can celebrate how these proven educational methods have made a difference in the lives of children, adults and ...Read More

NBC12 awards teacher Michelle Hughey for Excellence in Education

Posted on March 11, 2019
Teacher Michelle Hughey has changed hundreds of lives at our Sarah Dooley Center for Autism over the past 13 years. For her unrelenting dedication and compassion, NBC12 surprised her with their Excellence in Education Award. Michelle gives her all to every student and makes the most of every teachable moment. She works with some of our largest, most severely impacted students. Last year, one of her students was unable to ...Read More

Director Adam Dreyfus presents innovative mobile resource to MIT

Posted on February 22, 2019
  Adam Dreyfus aspires to help parents of children with autism outside of his role as our Autism Center Director. In 2016, he co-founded AnswersNow as an online platform that provides parents instant digital access to counseling from licensed clinicians. After participating in the MetLife Digital Accelerator program, Dreyfus and the AnswersNow team were invited by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to share the project and explore opportunities for partnership. ...Read More

College volunteer helps SDCA students reach goals with music therapy

Posted on July 13, 2018
Research shows that making music can create changes in the human brain, especially strengthening connections between the auditory and motor regions. In addition to the potential benefits music can provide a child with autism in speech and academic learning, Villa volunteer Lydia Heitman shows it’s just plain fun! For three summers, Lydia has brought joy to our Sarah Dooley Center for Autism students through music while helping them achieve individual ...Read More



COVID-19 UPDATE: SDCA CLOSED FOR REMAINDER OF 2019-2020 SCHOOL YEAR – READ MORE