Friday, June 29, 2018

FREE Online Autism Training from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering 55+ hours of online training in Teaching Procedures, Behavior Interventions and Focused Topics to public school staff in Montana who educate students with autism spectrum disorders. A listing and description of the training content can be found here. The training can be taken for OPI renewal units and ASHA CEU and now SWP/MFT/LAC/ CEUs. 

You can find more information and register for the online training here. New groups start the middle of each month and you will be sent information then. 

These are some of the results of our post-training survey:


Information for Speech-Language Providers

ASHA members and/or MT state licensed SLPs are qualified to earn ASHA CEUs for completing the online Relias Learning curriculum. In 2011, a MT licensed SLP completed the ATS training as an "Independent Study" course and earned ASHA CEUs.

ASHA requires that Independent Study activities are approved 30 days prior to the start of the learning activity.

Independent Study forms should be dated at least 30 days prior to the date of the first certificate for completing a module. Below is a link for the ASHA Independent study form. Independent study plans are limited to 20 hours. Participants fill out the form and send it to the Montana MSHA rep. Contact Doug Doty at for information on whom to send it to.  

The link below will take you directly to the Independent Study form:


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Repetitive behaviors in autism show sex bias early in life

Girls with autism have slightly less severe restricted and repetitive behaviorsthan do boys on the spectrum, according to one of the largest studies of sex differences in children with the condition1.
The difference is small and is seen only in children aged 5 and younger. Boys and girls older than 5 have repetitive behaviors of comparable severity, and children of all ages show similar social communication skills.
About four times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with autism. As a result, there is little information about how the condition might present in girls.
The new study is based on 2,684 people with autism from nine countries in Europe. It confirms the results of smaller studies — and of one large study of people with autism in the United States2. These studies also found that girls with autism are less likely to have restricted interests than are boys on the spectrum.
Read more here at Spectrum. 

Archived Webinar - Access to Core Vocabulary Using 3D Tactile Symbols Webinar

Did you know that 85% of what we say is communicated with only 200 basic words? It is now commonly understood in the field of augmentative and alternative communication that all students need access to a commonly used core vocabulary. Core vocabulary is a small set of simple words, in any language, that are used frequently and across contexts. 

This webinar with Kathy Look Howery will introduce you to a newly developed set of 3D tactile symbols created by the Centre for Literacy and Disability Studies for students with severe visual impairment, significant intellectual disability, and/or complex communication needs. Current research and practice focusing on the use of these symbols to support language development and expressive communication is also shared. The webinar also shares resources that can assist you in teaching and modelling use of core-vocabulary throughout the day for students whose challenges come in multiples.

Watch the webinar here. 

Woes for Autism Waiver at Hi-Line Home Programs

Called the Children’s Autism Waiver Services, the program works to fund interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). That waiver program was affected by recent legislative cuts and the elimination of the Autism Diagnosis Observation Schedule Assessment Site in Miles City, which was hosted by the Developmental Education Assistance Program. 

According to Denise Herman of Hi-Line Home Programs, the waiver provides Medicaid funding to help pay for a three-year intensive early intervention program for preschool-aged children with ASD. The catch is that these children must go through an intensive evaluation and diagnosis assessment and be certified by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) before they can receive the waiver from Medicaid. With the closure of the assessment site, now each specialist must be visited individually for completion of the assessment, adding time and money to the process. 

According to Herman, the diagnosis system has fallen apart in Montana, due to budget cuts and a sense of over-regulation on the part of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). In the past, if a child was referred to Hi-Line Home for a developmental disability they were sent to an Evaluation and Diagnosis Clinic in Miles City.

Number of Montana Students with Autism

A note on the 2017 data: The OPI made a change in 2017 Child Count procedures. In previous years, the Child Count included ONLY students with autism who had an IEP in effect in the online IEP system on the first Monday in October. In 2017, this date was changed to include students who had an IEP in effect on the first Monday in October AND students who had an IEP in effect in September but whose IEP may have not have been in effect on the first Monday in October due to re-scheduled meetings. These student were still receiving special education services, but would not have been counted in previous Child Counts.

I am awaiting a further breakdown of the 2017 Child Count data to see if we can determine the size of this change and note that in 2017 and future data.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Behavior Gains Possible In Adults With Autism, Study Finds

With intervention, adults with autism can see significant behavioral improvements, according to new research suggesting that the window of opportunity for gains may be longer than previously thought.
Researchers found that using an evidenced-based intervention with young adults on the spectrum led not only to observed advances, but also changes in how the participants’ brains functioned.
The results are meaningful because most studies look at the effects of treatment on children, according to those behind the findings published online in the journal Autism Research.

When the Way You Love Things Is “Too Much”; or: Why I Went to Portmeirion

Monday, April 9, 2018

Chuck E. Cheese is Sensory Friendly on Sundays

Including the Billings location.