Sunday, July 12, 2020

The OPI has a New Criteria for Autism

You can see the new criteria here, along with some Frequently Asked Questions. The new criteria checklist is now in the AIM system.

If you have questions, please send them to Doug Doty at We will update the FAQ questions periodically.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

FREE Online Autism Training from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering 80+ hours of online training in Teaching Procedures for students with autism/cognitive delay, Applied Behavior Analysis and a variety of Focused Topics. These online trainings are available to public school staff in Montana. A listing and description of the training content can be found here.

New groups start the beginning and middle of each month and you will be sent information at that time on how to begin your training. You have 90 days to complete the training. 
OPI renewal units are not available* for this training. The training can be taken for ASHA CEUs. 

* The training content provider now allows learners to fast-forward through videos to reach quizzes. Because there is no longer a specific amount of time that must be spent in each course, we can no longer offer OPI renewal units for this training.


ASHA members and/or MT state licensed SLPs are qualified to earn ASHA CEUs. Independent study plans are limited to 20 hours. ASHA requires that Independent Study activities are approved 30 days prior to the start of the learning activity. It works best to get the ASHA approval BEFORE registering for the courses.  

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. You can find the Independent Study form here.  

Friday, September 20, 2019

Autism Rate Rising Faster Among Some Children, Study Finds

Between 2007 and 2013, autism rates increased 73 percent among Hispanics and 44 percent among black children ages 3 to 5. At the same time, prevalence rose 25 percent for whites in that age bracket.

“We found that rates among blacks and Hispanics are not only catching up to those of whites — which have historically been higher — but surpassing them,” said Cynthia Nevison of the University of Colorado Boulder who led the study.
Traditionally, autism rates among minority groups have lagged, a factor often attributed to a lack of awareness and resources in such communities. However, the new study found that prevalence among black children surpassed whites in 30 states by 2012.

AAC Courses from the Idaho Training Clearinghouse


  • Course ID: 40846
  • Download Syllabus & Requirements
  • Registration Deadline: October 18, 2019  Registration Open
  • Course Dates: August 26, 2019 through December 2, 2019
  • Credits Available: 1 (through the University of Idaho)


  • Course ID: 35984
  • Download Syllabus & Requirements
  • Registration Deadline: October 18, 2019  Registration Open
  • Course Dates: September 6, 2019 through December 2, 2019
  • Credits Available: 1 (through the University of Idaho)
How to Register

  1. Review course syllabus for course requirements and deadlines.
  2. Review registration deadline.
  3. To participate in a course, you will need to create an account (see LMS User Overview blue button above) and verify this account with the Idaho Training Clearinghouse (ITC) Learning Management System (LMS). Once an account is created, you will be able to login and choose courses from the ITC LMS Course Catalog. 
  4. If you have problems verifying your account (e.g., you get a 'services not available' page), please email for assistance.
  5. You will also need to complete a University of Idaho (UI) registration form located inside your course. Please include your district or a personal email address on the form. Then mail/fax the registration form and payment* to the UI Registrar (address/phone on form).
*Course Fees: $60.00/academic graduate credit

Against neurodiversity

"The movement has good intentions, but it favours the high-functioning and overlooks those who struggle with severe autism."

"The neurodiversity movement is dividing both the autism community and autism researchers. Advocates make the distinction between autistics and ‘neurotypicals’, or nonautistics. This fosters an ‘us versus them’ mentality, wherein nonautistic people are regarded as an oppressive enemy. It also fosters intolerance towards different ways of thinking about autism, as well as a deep and unhealthy mistrust of the scientific and medical communities.
Ironically, a social-justice movement that aims to highlight the ways in which autistic people have been mistreated by society is now directly responsible for the mistreatment of the most vulnerable of all autistics – many of whom are too severely affected by their condition to speak up for themselves. In standing up for their rights, a group of marginalised people are effectively hyper-marginalising the very people they claim to be advocating for. They have monopolised the public discourse on autism, and continue to do whatever they can to silence any dissenting voices; this inability to debate and try to reach compromise is a problem not only for the autistic community, but for wider society."

Autistic girls’ brains show distinct anatomical features

Nerve fiber tracts in the brains of autistic girls are more fragmented than those of typical girls. By contrast, autistic boys’ brain structure is indistinguishable from that of typical boys, a new study suggests1.
Compared with controls, autistic girls and women have less integrity in several nerve tracts, the researchers found, including in one that connects the occipital lobe at the back of the head to the temporal lobe at the side. The differences are greater on the left side of the brain than on the right. This may explain some of the girls’ challenges with language, because the brain’s main language areas are in the left hemisphere, Jou says.
The autistic girls have autism traits similar to those of the boys: The two sexes scored similarly on a test of autism severity. That result fits with a theory called the female protective effect, the researchers say. This theory posits that biological factors — such as a lack of integrity of brain tracts — must be more extreme in girls than in boys to result in autism.
The evidence is indirect, however.
“It’s consistent with the female protective effect, but I don’t think it’s evidence for [the theory],” Nordahl says.
The wide age range of the participants is a limitation of the study, Nordahl says. Structural differences in autistic boys and men could show up only at certain ages, and lumping people of disparate ages could mask this variation.

Free Esports Curriculum Contains Full Lesson Plans

An esports league has launched a free high school curriculum to help teachers use gaming to boost student learning. "Gaming Concepts" from the High School Esports League (HSEL), was written as turnkey curriculum "that almost anyone with even rudimentary computer skills could teach," according to authors Kristy Custer and Michael Russell. The project was supported by Microsoft.
The content covers learning standards in areas such as careers in gaming, maintaining healthy practices, self-management and interpersonal communications, as well as an overview of esports gaming and complete lesson plans.
The new curriculum, "Gaming Concepts," is openly available as a downloadable PDF file on the HSEL website.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

School Psychologist of the Year

The Montana Association of School Psychologist (MASP) is currently accepting nominations for the School Psychologist of the Year Award. Nominations will be accept until the end of September and the award will be presented during the MASP Conference over MEA. 

Do you know a worthy candidate for MASP School Psychologist of the Year? To nominate someone for this award please fill out this form.
Montana School Psychologists work tirelessly, and often anonymously, to better the lives of children and youth. Every day, in settings as diverse as a preschool setting, a tiny K-12 rural school, or a large urban high school, school psychologists can be found discovering what turns a student on to learning, building a better behavior plan, contributing helpful ideas to an RtI team, guiding colleagues through data-based decision making, and more.

Every year, MASP acknowledges one individual, nominated by peers or colleagues, who stands out as a shining example of the best of the profession. This person is publicly acclaimed as the School Psychologist of the Year.  

Friday, September 13, 2019

Webinar - Using Proactive Strategies for Social Emotional Learning

In this webinar you’ll learn: 

• Best practices for applying timely, proactive strategies to promote self-regulation and social emotional learning

• The relationship between emotional control and students’ ability to learn

• How to choose the right strategies to address common unwanted behaviors 

A Certificate of Attendance will be awarded to those who attend the live webinar. 

Can’t attend? Just register and we’ll send a link to the recorded event.

Duration: 1 hour
Sep 24, 2019 05:00 PM in Eastern Time

An Open Letter to the Media: On “Severe” Autism and Inspiration Porn

Inspiration Porn: The Basics

So, what is inspiration porn, exactly?
Well, let’s condense a big topic into a few points that should be easy enough to identify, understand, and then, most importantly– NOT practice in journalism.

1. Featuring Disabled People Doing Everyday Tasks

If a disabled person is doing something that most people do, like communicating, attending an event, or– say– graduating from high school, then it’s not newsworthy.
A few months ago, there was a daughter who was signing for her father at a concert. This became national news, and everyone talked about how touching it was.
But this is a daughter and a father communicating. They’re using language like everyone else does when they communicate. To film them… creepy.
Two people communicating in their language is normal.
Again, for the people in the back: people communicating in their language is
Let’s imagine how cringe-worthy this scenario is in another context:
Marissa and Maya are meeting after work to have a chat over a glass of wine.
They are speaking Spanish in Nebraska. An amazed patron who has never seen two real-life people speaking Spanish films it and puts it on YouTube.
It becomes a national story. Women had a glass of wine and– communicated. Stop the presses.
See? It’s weird, right?
Was an autistic person graduating what was newsworthy? Because most autistic people graduate. Was a woman signing to her deaf father in their everyday, normal communication? Because that is not unique to them. That’s their daily life.
Not being the majority does not mean that someone is fair game for being exoticized. A disabled person sighting is not like bigfoot, and footage of their interactions in life does not make for ethical clickbait.
Read more here.