Families Helping Families: Education. Community. Support.
Parents Of Autistic Children of Northern Virginia (POAC-NoVA) and its predecessor organization has worked for more than two decades to improve the quality and quantity of education for students with autism in Northern Virginia.
By meeting regularly with the decision makers in Northern Virginia school districts, POAC-NoVA strives to keep our members’ concerns front and center. We have developed relationships that allow our members to not only have their concerns heard, but acted upon.
We also closely follow the education budget process at the local and state level and alert our members when programs that serve our kids are in jeopardy.
POAC-NoVA offers a private member listserv and monthly newsletter when you join.
We also hold meetings several times per year on topics of interest to our community. Topics include expert advice on developing a successful IEP for your child, inclusion opportunities within schools, adapted sports and recreation opportunities for your child and your family, and many more.
Free childcare is generally available at these meetings. Learn more information about upcoming meetings.
POAC-NoVA also hosts a BBQ pool party in July and a holiday party in December.
We offer support group meetings for parents several times per year, providing a forum to talk frankly to other parents who are dealing with this diagnosis. We have found that one of the best sources of information have been other parents who truly understand how autism affects not just one child, but the entire family. Please visit our Events page to see our scheduled group meetings.
Originally, we were Parents for Autistic Children’s Education (PACE), a non-profit tax-exempt corporation formed in 1996 by concerned Northern Virginia parents of children with autism, whose students mostly attended Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). The goal of PACE was to educate parents, school personnel, elected officials, and the general public about autism and effective, scientifically-validated interventions for children with autism. PACE’s activities included a focus on the intensive early interventions that are crucial for ensuring that children with autism reach their greatest potential. PACE’s other activities included a parent support group, sponsorship of medical, scientific, and educational speakers, educating parents about their legal rights, encouragement of parents to get involved in the education of their children, and the development of a charter school for children with autism.
The charter school effort with FCPS began in 2002 and resulted in the formation of the Preschool Autism Classroom (PAC) program, establishment of the ABA coaches program, and the adoption of ABA as the primary teaching methodology within FCPS beginning in 2004. Also in 2004, the name of the organization changed to Parents of Autistic Children of Northern Virginia (POAC-NoVA). In 2018, POAC-NoVA became an official member of the FCPS Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities (ACSD), a State-Mandated Special Education Advisory Committee. POAC-NoVA is the only disability-specific parent organization to be a member of the ACSD.