Professional Learning Community


A professional learning community (PLC) is a network of groups that enable sharing and integration of diverse knowledge, experiences, perspectives, attitudes and practices.  This networking enhances creative thinking, resource development and sharing, idea generation, and program improvement. Shared passion, interest, understanding and work towards common goals fosters greater inclusion, diversity, and capacity for implementation than working in isolation.


While members will all bring varying levels of knowledge and experience, the value of the PLC is a safe learning environment, thriving on diversity and inclusion, in which all contribute, grow and learn. In a productive PLC, members share common interests, engage in joint activities and discussions, and exchange, critically evaluate and reflect on information.  They further develop and share resources to support and act on shared goals by developing new knowledge and tools for building capacity through dissemination and implementation leading to meaningful outcomes and progress.

PLCs are flexible, dynamic, and inclusive. They embrace learning. As a result they can create a change within an organization or larger community through:

  • New opportunities through sharing and valuing multiple perspectives
  • New solutions as a result of the inclusive environment that fosters inquiry, innovation and knowledge generation
  • Ongoing support of members to help develop capacity, innovation, risk taking, and community transformation as well as connect people, ideas, and actions towards meaningful progress and outcomes for individuals and families.

Ask for More Info or Join

Access Community Site

To access the Community Site:

  1. Submit the request to join (above)
  2. Create an IU guest account at
  3. Send an email to with the email address used for the account.
  4. Once added to the site, you will receive an automatic email invitation

Community Norms

We operate around the following governance principles:

  • participation
  • transparency
  • responsiveness
  • consensus orientation
  • equity and inclusiveness
  • effectiveness and efficiency
  • accountability, and
  • rules of engagement.

As part of the PLC:

  • Be open to all with an interest and who abide by community norms
  • Encourage the ongoing education of members and the deepening of expertise among members


When an individual engages in negative behaviors, such as a tantrum or aggression, it is important to focus on the safety of the individual, those around them.

In case of emergency, call 9-1-1!


Indiana’s Adult Abuse Hotline: Report any types of adult (18+ y.o.) abuse (e.g., neglect, battery, or exploitation) who may be incapable due to mental illness or other physical or mental incapacity to Adult Protective Services. State hotline: 1-800-992-6978. For more information or to report online:

Indiana’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: Call 1-800-800-5556 to report child abuse (e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse) and neglect allegations. Help is available 24/7. More Information here:

Suicide hotline: Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a counselor at Lifeline crisis center near you. Help is available 24/7. For more information:

SAMHSA’s National Helpline (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service):  Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Help available 24/7. For more information:

When to Ask for Help?

Individuals with ASD experience many challenges. However, it is important for parents and caregivers to recognize when they need to seek help:

  • Aggression, self-injury or other changes in behavior, like irritability or anxiety, are recurrent, persistent, and have strong negative impact onto those around them
  • Dangerous or unsafe behaviors that are challenging to manage or contain (e.g., elopement and wandering)
  • Threats of suicide
  • Regression in skills





Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

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What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is a research-based philosophy of working with individuals of different abilities, not just individuals with ASD. ABA encompasses a range of strategies and methods based on standard behavioral principles designed to address reduction of behaviors by encouraging positive or desired behaviors and discouraging negative or unwanted behaviors in order to improve a variety of skills. Behaviors are considered to be a form of communication that can be addressed by teaching appropriate skills to support the reduction of undesired behaviors across settings.

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Examples of ABA methods include, but are not limited to:

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  • Incidental Teaching: Creating a learning environment based on an individual’s interests or motivations

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  • Social Stories™: Using words and/or pictures to describe what to do in various situations that may challenge or provoke anxiety within an individual (developed by Carol Gray)

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Additional Resources

Autism Speaks: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB): About Behavior Analysis

HANDS in Autism® Interdisciplinary Training & Resource Center: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). What is it? 

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ASD: Assessing Needs for Information and Training in Indiana

HANDS in Autism® at the IU School of Medicine has been invited to conduct an analysis of the current resources and services related to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Indiana. The results of this analysis will help to inform the comprehensive plan for collaboratively and strategically strengthening the supports among systems for families and individuals with ASD.

One component of this analysis involves the completion of a comprehensive needs assessment. We are seeking input from all perspectives, whether as a family member, individual with ASD, medical provider, school personnel, justice system employee, or other community service provider. For this assessment to be representative of the many stakeholder groups that support individuals with ASD as well as reflective of the needs of individuals with ASD themselves, we need participation from as many people and from as many viewpoints as possible. All responses will be confidential and only summary data will be shared with the state and as part of the report and recommendations provided to the state.

Please take a moment to complete the survey and feel free to also share this information with others who may provide insight. The survey will take approximately 10- 15 minutes to complete. If you are interested in completing a hard copy survey or know of others who may be interested in completing a hard copy version of the survey, let us know as hard copies are available upon request.

To complete the Indiana Autism Needs Assessment, click on the following link:
English Version –
Spanish Version –

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  • Categories

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About ASD     Services to Consider      Learn Now     Get Connected    Indiana Innovations

Section: About ASD

About ASD
About ASD

An introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Diagnosis Across Lifespan

How ASD is diagnosed depending on age

About the Diagnosis
Medical information about ASD

ASD & Families

How and ASD diagnosis can affect a family

Co-occurring Disorders

Disorders that often accompany ASD

Cultural and Diversity Considerations
How expectations for behavior can change depending on local culture

Public Safety & Law Enforcement

ASD affects how an individual may interact with LEO and how to stay safe in public

ASD and Law

Learn about state and federal regulations and laws that affect individuals with ASD

State Regulations
Federal Regulations

Looking for More Information?

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Section: Learn Now

Training Opportunities

A list of training opportunities for professionals and families
Online Learning

A list of online training opportunities for professionals and families
Reading Research

How to read and understand a scientific paper

Descriptions of frequently used terms

Section: Get Connected

Get Connected

How to stay connected: Groups and More

Get Connected

Check out what is going on in Indiana

Discussions of advocacy and self-advocacy
Groups & Networks

Support groups for individuals with ASD and families

Co-occurring Disorders

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It is not uncommon for individuals with ASD to have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Sometimes, these mental health disorders can go undiagnosed because the symptoms and resulting behaviors may be incorrectly attributed to the individual’s ASD diagnosis.

Information about specific mental health disorders may be obtained through credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), but the information below is designed to provide individuals and families with facts about mental health and ASD as well as available resources across Indiana to help intervene and support individuals with co-occurring disorders.

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Can Individuals with ASD Also Have Other Mental Health Disorders?

Yes, research has indicated that individuals with ASD exhibit an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders compared to the general population. Some disorders, such as anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), communication disorders, intellectual disabilities, and others share particular symptoms and challenges with ASD.  This makes identification and interventions a bit more complex, necessitating involvement of professionals trained to work with this population.

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What Resources are Available for Individuals with ASD and Mental Health Issues?

Resources and appropriate treatment options vary based upon the individual’s specific needs, as well as geographic location. Speaking with a:

  • family physician,
  • pediatrician,
  • developmental neurologist,
  • psychiatrist, and/or
  • licensed psychiatrist

will help you determine how to find the best specialist to assist your family member with ASD and a co-occurring mental health disorder.

In addition, the Autism Society of Indiana’s Autism Resource Network of Indiana (ARNI) is a useful tool to find and access resources and provider information related to mental health treatment across the state of Indiana. The Indiana Psychological Association and National Register of Health Service Psychologists both offer tools to find psychologists and mental health professionals in a particular area. Similarly, Indiana’s System of Care (SOC) Network is designed to connect families, organizations, and providers within and across communities to improve service deliveries for individuals and families seeking resources related to mental health. HANDS in Autism® is part of a continuum of services within the Department of Psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine and with a focus on ASD and mental health. Finally, The Arc of Indiana Insurance Advocacy Resource Center may assist with determining which treatments or providers are covered under particular insurance plans.


What Resources Are Available For Families Managing Stress Related To Having A Family Member With ASD?

Having a family member diagnosed with ASD can be a stressful time for caregivers.  Support groups can help assist individuals in managing their personal stress levels associated with the ASD diagnosis.  Numerous support groups exist within the community that are comprised of professionals, primary caregivers, medical professionals, educators, social service workers, and others.  For a list of local support groups in your area, visit some of the resources noted below.

For more information, go to the page on ASD & Families.

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 Available Resources

National and Nationwide Resources:

State Resources:


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How to Read Research

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How to Read and Understand a Scientific Paper:

A Step-by-Step Guide for Non-Scientists

  1. Begin by reading the introduction, not the abstract.
  2. Identify the big question.
  3. Summarize the background in five sentences or less.
  4. Identify the specific question(s).
  5. Identify the approach.
  6. Read the methods section.
  7. Read the results section.
  8. Determine whether the results answer the specific question(s).
  9. Read the conclusion/discussion/interpretation section.
  10. Go back to the beginning and read the abstract.
  11. Find out what other researchers say about the paper.

Read the full version of the article by Jennifer Raff

Additional Resources

Organization for Autism Research: Navigating Research

Organization for Autism Research: Finding Research

Organization for Autism Research: Parent’s Guide to Research