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photo by Marisol Flores

v

Volume II, Issue 2 • August, 2010

ACN to collaborate in autism charter school
New classroom program will replace ACN pilot project

Autism Community Network (ACN) is
proud to announce a new collaboration
with Responsive Education Solutions, a
Texas charter school district. ACN is
working with Responsive Ed to help them
open a tuition-free public charter school
for young children with autism. This will
be the only public charter school for children with autism in Texas, and one of a
handful in the US.
The school will open this fall with three
classrooms for children ages 3-6. The
school will provide 5 hours per day of instruction on a traditional school-year
calendar. A temporary facility for the

• Inside this issue •
Profile: Autism Treatment Center
New Director of Training & Research
A Pioneer of Early Identification
Congratulations to new BCBAs
2009 Financial Results
Behavior Therapy Provider List
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
> Care to support our work?

school has been established at 3622
Fredricksburg Road. The school will
relocate to a larger, more permanent
facility in early 2011.
The new charter school will take
the place of the ACN Day Program,
which has operated as a pilot project
since January, 2010. All children ages
3-6 who were previously enrolled in
the ACN Day Program have been offered enrollment in the new school.
“We are very excited to assist these
families with ongoing education for
their children,” said ACN Executive
Director, Dr. Jessica Franco. “And
now many more families who couldn’t
afford the private tuition before are
going to be able to take advantage of
the highly trained staff and excellent
educational model.”
The inspiration for the new school
is that by working together, Responsive Ed and ACN will be able to provide the best education possible for
young children with autism in a public
school setting. Responsive Ed will
provide the infrastructure and the
teachers for the school. ACN will provide support and specialized training
for Responsive Ed’s staff at the
school, as well as supplementary
therapies for the students, such as
speech, occupational, and music

ACN ONLINE

Classroom Director Rheatha Miller leads a
tour of the classroom program for Barbara
Gentry of The USAA Foundation.

therapy. Further, ACN has agreed to
provide some financial support to the
new school. By collaborating together
with a shared goal, the two agencies
have been able to design and open
the school in just six months.
The school will qualify for state and
federal funding under TEA guidelines.
However, government funding covers
only a portion of the costs. Therefore,
the school is actively seeking private
contributions in order to maintain the
high-quality services that the students
will require. ❖

www.youtube.com/user/AutismSATX
facebook.com/AutismCommunityNetwork

Autism Treatment Center
Serving San Antonio since 1979
by Sandy Jessen
In a recent conversation with Director, Alonzo Andrews, I
learned about the history, goals and mission of Autism Treatment Center (ATC). ATC  opened in San Antonio in 1979 and
though it began as a children’s treatment center, as children
grew, the center expanded to accommodate older individuals.
Andrews noted that some adults who currently receive services
at the center began there as 5 and 6 year olds.  
Unique to San Antonio, ATC provides residential placement for
children and adults with autism. The center operates six residential facilities. During ACN’s recent tour of one of ATC's residential homes, Ivy Zwicker, ATC Operations Director, explained
that the personal care assistants function like family members,
living at the group home, and transporting residents to and from
the center. ATC operates three intermediate care facility (ICF)
homes for adults, one assisted living facility for adolescence
and young adults, and two Child Protective Services residential
treatment center (RTC) homes for children.
These residences are unique in that they serve as homes to
many individuals who have no other living option.  When we
commented on the home’s tasteful appointments, e.g. table
carefully set for the next meal,  Zwicker explained that creating

a home-like setting and improving daily living skills are important factors for quality living arrangements.
Many of the individuals  who live in the residential treatment center attend ATC’s school.  The ATC school has been
TEA certified since 1980, and has two classrooms which accommodate students between the ages of 3 and 18 to include students needing additional behavioral support referred by school districts.  
Students are shuttled throughout the day to ATC’s nearby
Medicaid-certified clinic for speech, occupational, and behavior therapy (ABA). By the end of the year, the shuttle van will
be stopping at a new four-acre facility presently under construction one block from ATC’s current location. The facility
has received considerable attention for its innovative design
which was the subject of an MIT presentation. Several meditation  areas  with fountains will be located on the new property as well as an area reserved to carry out the therapeutic
horticulture program.  An area for a school has been set
aside on the site.  
As I prepare to leave ATC, I notice a Buddha statue holding
a Rubik’s cube perched upon a file cabinet. Andrews and I
talked about the nature of ABA. “Managing behaviors should
be taught like choreography” remarks Andrews. In order to
address behavioral challenges you have to “Be present in the
moment,” Andrews states. He continues, “You must be intellectually, emotionally, spiritually ready”.  Glancing at the
statue he adds, “Such is the Tao of ABA”. ❖

ACN Welcomes New Director of Training and Research

by Sandy Jessen

The newest addition to ACN’s team is Director of
Training and Research, Berenice de la Cruz, PhD,
BCBA-D. Dr. de la Cruz’s interest in autism began
during her undergraduate studies in psychology
when she began to work with a 3-year old boy
with autism. The improvements and gains the
child made through applied behavior analysis
(ABA) inspired de la Cruz to pursue autism as a
field of study.
Dr. de la Cruz’s combined interest in research
and autism directed her to choose a unique path
for her master’s thesis. Dr. de la Cruz worked
under psychobiologist and famed Alzheimer’s researcher, Dr.
Don Moss, who was interested in the role of that neurotransmitters play in autism. Drs. Moss and de la Cruz collaborated in a
study looking at potential psychopharmacological treatments for
autism.
After obtaining her Master’s in Clinical Psychology at The University of Texas at El Paso, Dr. de la Cruz attended The University
of Texas at Austin’s doctoral program in Special Education specializing in autism and developmental disabilities. At UT-Austin,
she completed coursework and supervision hours to become a
BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst).
During her doctoral studies, Dr. de la Cruz conducted and published research that examined the effectiveness of video modeling and video prompting in teaching daily living skills to adults
with autism. She also coauthored a guide for parents and professionals entitled, How to Use Video Modeling and Video

Prompting. She conducted research on the effectiveness of utilizing Voice Output Communication Aids and Enhanced Milieu Teaching to teach
children with autism to communicate.
For her dissertation, Dr. de la Cruz developed
a training program to support teachers in developing and implementing self-monitoring interventions for children with autism. In the study,
students were taught to use self-monitoring interventions that teachers created for them.
Through the training, teachers were able to develop self-monitoring interventions for their students to increase appropriate classroom behavior. Dr. de la Cruz was mentored by autism expert, Dr. Jeff
Sigafoos from Victoria University in New Wellington, New Zealand and challenging behavior expert Dr. David P. Wacker
from the University of Iowa.
As the Director of Training and Research, Dr. de la Cruz
hopes to expand the training programs ACN has for parents
and professionals and to continue to develop data collection
systems for program evaluation and research at ACN. Potential research topics at ACN include early diagnosis of autism
in minority children, culturally sensitive parent training programs for minorities, and strategies to increase effectiveness
of professional training.
We are very excited to have Dr. de la Cruz with us and look
forward to an interactive research and training facility in
which parents, teachers, and therapists learn from one another and ultimately help children with autism. ❖

Pioneer of Early Identification
Dr. Chris Plauché Johnson shares insights with ACN team
by Sandy Jessen
Earlier this summer, Dr. Chris Plauché
Johnson (Dr. Chris), our medical director,
gave a day-long lecture to ACN team
members (both clinic and dayschool).
The lecture was broken down into three
sections; Autism Spectrum Disorder,
Complementary/Alternative Medicine,
and Joint Attention. ACN’s own Christie
Aylsworth, MS, CCC-SLP, presented the
segment on Joint Attention.
Dr. Chris, a legend in the autism
community, wrote the American Pediatric
Academy guidelines on autism. She also
founded CAMP CAMP, one of the first
summer camps to serve individuals with
special needs.
Dr. Chris talked about the events that
led up to her being chosen to write the
autism guidelines for the American
Academy of Pediatric s and how, through
her urging, the American Academy of
Pediatrics recommended all children
should be screened for autism by the
age of two.
Dr. Chris pointed out that there is no
direct correlation between IQ levels and
autism and that the essence of what
determines autism in an individual is a
lack of Joint Attention. According to Dr.
Chris, joint attention should be a “core

Two ACN therapists
earn BCBA credentials

feature of all ASD screening tests”. she
noted that joint attention is “pathalomonic,” unique to individuals with
autism.
Another interesting topic was the correlation between Asperger’s Syndrome
and high functioning autism. Dr. Chris
pointed out that early in childhood the
two look very different, as the child
with Asperger’s does not demonstrate
the same language delay as a child
with high-functioning autism. On the
other hand, a child with Asperger’s
Syndrome tends to be more challenged
in motor planning and can appear a
little “clumsy”. She pointed out that as
these children mature, high-functioning
autism and Asperger’s tend to appear
similar as the high-functioning child
becomes verbal. A child with Asperger’s
is not always entitled to the same services as a child diagnosed with highfunctioning autism and we are yet to
see how the new DSM-V criteria will
frame Asperger in its guidelines .
The last segment of Dr. Chris’ lecture, Complementary and Alternative
Medicine (CAM), addressed some of
the more controversial topics with regard to autism. Chris spoke about the
issues for medical professionals and
“the lack of evidence-based data for

many CAM therapies.” Dr. Chris ended
this segment of the lecture saying that it
was important for parents and practitioners to weigh the costs and risks, as well
as available evidence that supports a
particular mode.
The anecdotes laced throughout the
lecture covered 30 years of experience in
the field of autism. The first- hand accounts made for a memorable day. There
were many stories about children Dr.
Chris had helped. In one recollection she
recounted how CAMP CAMP decided to
hire additional night-shift staff to stay up
through the night to assist children with
sleep disorders.
In recent years Dr. Chris has broadened
her attention to include serving others
through spirituality-based services such
as Catholic Worker House, a transition
shelter for homeless individuals. Certainly, wherever she serves the people
she touches will continue to profoundly
benefit from her work. ❖

Financial Results for FY2009

ACN recently filed its IRS form 990 return for 2009, our first year of operations.
Income totaled $1,043,648 and expenses were $728,276. Fundraising far
outpaced expenses in our start-up year due to the timing of the clinic’s opening.
INCOME

Congratulations to Britt Sims (left) and Amit
Nadkarni (right). Both these top-notch ABA
therapists have many years of experience
working with children with autism. This
summer, after much hard work Amit earned
his BCBA certification, and Britt earned his
BCaBA certification. ❖

Dr. Chris addressing ACN team members

EXPENSES

San Antonio Area Behavior Therapy Providers
Autism Treatment Center
10615 Perrin Beitel # 801
San Antonio, TX 78217
P: 210.599.7733
www.atcoftexas.org
Services: Occupational Therapy
Speech Therapy
ABA/AVB
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .
Behavior Analytic Solutions
4415 W. Piedras Ste.256
San Antonio, TX78228
P:210.316.6410
www.behavioranalytic.com
Services: ABA/AVB
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .
Behavioral Innovations
10515 Gulfdale
San Antonio, TX 78216
P: 210.340.2627
www.behavioral-innovations.com
Services: ABA/AVB
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .
Behavior Keys
P: 210.771.3166
www.behaviorkeys.com
Services: ABA

Behavior Analysts of Texas
4285 Gatecrest
San Antonio, TX 78217
P: 210.657.7400
www.abatherapy.net
Services: ABA/AVB
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .
One for Autism
265 E. Lullwood
San Antonio, TX 78212
P: 210.680.8737
www.oneforautism.com
Services: Occupational Therapy
Speech Therapy, ABA/AVB
School, Social Groups
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .
Autism Resource Guide
Any Baby Can publishes an excellent
autism resource guide as part of
“Reaching Families Facing Autism.”
You can download the PDF at:
www.anybabycansa.org
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .
ATTENTION PROVIDERS:
Weʼd like to share information about
your services. Send an email to:
brooke@autismcommunitynetwork-sa.org

AUTISM
COMMUNITY
NETWORK
(Autism
Service
Center
of
San
Antonio)
BOARD
OF
DIRECTORS:
John
Emley,
Chairman
and
President
Shannon
Gunn,
Vice‐President
Katherine
Tapley,
Secretary

Eric
Abati,
Treasurer
Linda
Davidson,
PhD
Lorene
Dillard

Wilson
Wayne
Grant,
MD
Chris
Plauché
Johnson,
MEd,
MD

H.
Marie
Washington
•
•
•
ADMINISTRATION:
Jessica
H.
Franco,
Executive
Director
Sandra
Cedillo,
Executive
Assistant
Berenice
de
la
Cruz,
Director
of
Training
Brooke
Lamartina,
Community
Outreach
Covita
Moroney,
Director
of
Development
Tina
Tschoepe,
Clinic
Coordinator
•
•
•

We
are
a
non‐profit
501(c)(3)
agency!

You
are
invited
to
help
the
children
we

serve
with
a
tax‐deductible
gift.
Mail
to:

Autism
Community
Network
701
South
Zarzamora
St.,
Cottages
1‐9
San
Antonio,
TX
78207
(210)
435‐1000

701 S. Zarzamora St., Cottages 1-9
San Antonio, TX 78207

CPS Fish Day!
Community Outreach Coordinator
Brooke Lamartina worked with CPS
Energy to provide patients a fun day
of fishing. Calaveras Lake was
stocked with fish, and volunteers
were on hand teach the children to
fish. One mother commented: “It was
a great day! I applaud CPS for extending an invitation to parents like
myself. We don't have many places
to take our children where they can
be at ease. I look forward to future
activities where we all understand,
and have a chance to breathe.”