Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Transitioning from PECS to Speech-Generating Devices Training (virtual) - 2021 November

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS®) is an evidence-based protocol that teaches vital communication skills such as initiation, persistence in relaying messages, picture discrimination and basic sentence structure. After mastery of these skills, the learner likely has a large repertoire of pictures in the communication book. If the learner is not speaking, the team may need to explore a transition to a dedicated Speech Generating Device (SGD) or tablet with communication app that will accommodate larger vocabularies and allow for continued language development. To ensure the rapid transfer of existing communication skills, the transition will require the team to assess current PECS skills and then analyze features of various apps/SGDS to select a device that will best meet the learner’s needs. Following device selection, detailed lesson plans are necessary to teach use of the new device as a functional communication system. This workshop is appropriate for teams supporting learners who may be ready to transition from PECS to SGDs. It is also appropriate for teams working with learners who are not currently using their devices effectively.

*Please have a Speech Generating Device (SGD) or a tablet with an AAC app during the training to use for a variety of activities.

November 9   8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. 

OPI renewal units (6) will be provided after verification from PECS that you have attended the training. ASHA and BACB CEUs are available through PECS. 

You can register for the training here

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Virtual PECS Level 1 and 2 Trainings - November/December 2021

Individuals who are nonverbal or have limited speech need a communication system they can start using right now. PECS provides an immediately useful method for requesting things, actions and people, in a way that requires and promotes social interaction. Using the principles of applied behavior analysis, PECS starts by teaching spontaneous requesting and as quickly as possible, moves on to responding to questions as well as commenting about things in the environment.

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering the following (free!) PECS Level 1 and 2 trainings: 

PECS Level 1 Trainings:

November 11-12   (8:00 a.m. Central Standard Time)

November 22-23   (8:00 a.m. Central Standard Time)

November 29-30   (8:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time)

December 2-3   (8:00 a.m. Central Standard Time)

December 9-10   (8:00 Pacific Standard Time)

December 13-14   (8:00 a.m. Central Standard Time)

December 28-29   (8:00 a.m. Central Standard Time)

PECS Level 2 Training:

Level 2 - December 9-10  (8:00 a.m. Central Standard Time)

Things to Know: 

You must complete both days of the training. Trainings are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the designated time zone. 

OPI renewal units (14) will be provided after verification from PECS that you have completed the training. ASHA and/or BACB CEUs are available through PECS only. 

A hardcopy PECS manual will be sent to you for the training. Training registration will close ~14 days before each training to allow for mail delivery of the PECS manual. 

Register for a PECS training here

If you have any questions, please email Doug Doty at If you want to know how other Montana educators value PECS training, look here

Social Thinking Trainings

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project has a limited number of scholarships for Montana public school educators to attend online trainings from Social Thinking, beginning October 22nd. These trainings will be from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. OPI renewal units (4) will be provided after verification from Social Thinking that you have completed the training.  

The link to register through the OPI Montana Autism Education Project can be found here

A description of the trainings can be found here. The OPI scholarships are only available if you register through the above OPI link. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

How I use "masking" to Help With My Experience as an Autistic Woman

 "I didn’t even know what ‘masking’ was until long after I was diagnosed with autism. It’s defined as ‘camouflaging or compensating’ and ‘a social survival strategy’. 

For me, it works in the same way that makeup does. When I feel insecure about my natural looks, I wear makeup to make myself feel more confident. It allows me to not stand out as much and I feel like I ‘fit in’ with most of society. 

Masking is very similar – it’s a technique that involves adopting traits, mannerisms and mimicking others’ behaviour to blend in."

Read more here at Metro. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Training - Teaching Self-Advocacy Skills

Virtual Training – October 15th   3:30 – 4:30 p.m.  // October 22nd   9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Self-advocacy skills are important for the children in your classroom and their having those skills will make the classroom experience more enjoyable and productive for everyone. This webinar will provide you with a plan to teach practical self-advocacy skills your students can start practicing in your classroom and at home.

Register for the training here

Training - Autism 101

Virtual Training - October 21st   11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

This training will include: 

1. An infomercial for the services/resources provided by the OPI Montana Autism Education Project;

2. A quick history of autism diagnoses;

3. “Causes” of and “Cures” for autism;

4.  A review of Child Count data on Montana students with autism. 

(Please note – this training will NOT include a review of the OPI criteria for autism or the identification on students with autism. A second training for that has been scheduled on October 26th.) 

You can register for the Autism 101 training here

Training - OPI’s Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Virtual Training – October 26th   11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

This training will include: 

1. Why and how the OPI created a new educational autism criteria in 2019;

2.  What is and who are/are not required to identify a student as having autism spectrum disorder in the education setting; 

3.  A review of the OPI autism criteria;

4.  Time for questions and answers.

You can register for the Autism Criteria training here

Social-Emotional Development in Children with Language Delays and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Virtual Training – November 5th  9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Young children with language delays are at risk for persistent developmental and behavioral difficulties. This presentation will focus on the assessment of social-emotional development in children with language delays and autism spectrum disorder as well as the emerging evidence supporting effectiveness of interventions.

Register for the training here

ADOS Booster Training - 2021 December

Virtual Training – December 10th.   9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

This is a one-day review of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale complete with scoring practice and practical question review. This training is available only for Montana public school educators who have previously completed a two-day ADOS administration training. 

You can register for the ADOS Booster training here.  

Monday, September 27, 2021

Book: Prevent-Teach-Reinforce: The School-Based Model of Individualized Positive Behavior Support Second Edition

 Suggested by one of our Autism Consultants. 

Solve serious behavior challenges in K–8 classrooms with the updated second edition of this bestselling book, your practical, user-friendly guide to the Prevent-Teach-Reinforce (PTR) model. Developed by highly respected experts on positive behavior support, this research-proven model gives your school team a step-by-step blueprint for reducing problems unresolved by typical behavior management strategies. You'll get explicit guidance and strategies for implementing all five steps of PTR: 1) teaming and goal-setting, 2) collecting data, 3) conducting a PTR Functional Behavioral Assessment, 4) developing a PTR behavior intervention plan, and 5) monitoring progress and making data-based decisions. Enhanced with new research on PTR and fresh content on timely topics like multi-tiered systems of support, this guidebook will help you resolve even the toughest behavior challenges—and improve social and academic outcomes for your whole class.


  • proven effective by research and field testing in real classrooms—PTR was shown to reduce behavior problems and increase evidence of social skills and academic engagement
  • structured and explicit, with five systematic steps that take you beyond tips and strategies
  • consistent with positive behavior support and derived from the principles of applied behavior analysis
  • easily adaptable to the needs and goals of each individual student
  • effective for both typically developing students and learners with disabilities and other challenges

New and enhanced material on:

  • Using multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS)
  • Implementing evidence-based classroom strategies
  • Becoming an effective team facilitator
  • Collaborating as a strong, cohesive team
  • Monitoring progress with the Individualized Behavior Rating Scale Tool
  • Developing successful behavior intervention plans
  • Creating useful task analyses
  • Making data-based decisions

Plus: new case examples that illustrate components of PTR, two in-depth case studies, and new and revised forms (also available online for easy download)

See more here