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 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:


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Asking Students to Plan Bad Behavior

Getting students to think about behaving badly helps them arrive at positive norms—and such reverse thinking may work in other situations as well.

Here’s a question students don’t expect to hear from a teacher: “How can we make sure to get kicked out of the museum today?”
It was Tuesday morning, and my fifth grade class was getting ready to go on a field trip to the Honolulu Museum of Art. While I relish every chance I get to visit museums, I sensed that a few of my students did not feel the same way.
I had to make a choice before our departure: Review the safety rules and run the risk of seeing their eyes glaze over, or engage the students in coming up with appropriate behavior expectations for themselves.

Webinar: Mayada Elsabbagh discusses autism research on global stage

Global autism research offers a unique opportunity. The neurobiological substrates of autism are likely to be common across people, and thus the ‘true’ nature of autism is likely to become clear once we study the condition across diverse genetic pools, environments and cultural traditions.
In this webinar, I will present on recent advances in autism research across international settings. Adapting autism research to distinct cultural contexts offers a valuable opportunity to strengthen the scientific evidence for the roots and core features of autism. It also may inspire new directions for diagnosing and managing neurodevelopmental conditions that draw on the strengths of a community.

Optimism, confusion greet federal fast track for autism drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the Swiss drug company Roche a rare ‘breakthrough therapy’ designation for a drug that may ease some features of autism.
The breakthrough designation means that the drug, balovaptan, can move more quickly to FDA approval. Experts are hopeful about the drug’s new status but say the tests used to assess it are less than ideal and the drug’s mode of action is a puzzle.
In Roche’s trial of balovaptan in adults with autism, 223 men on the spectrum took 1.5, 4 or 10 milligrams of the drug or a placebo every day for 12 weeks.
Caregivers rated the men’s social abilities on the Social Responsiveness Scale 2 (SRS) — the trial’s primary outcome measure — before and after the trial. Investigators also administered a scale called the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, which measures how an individual adapts to social changes and navigates life’s day-to-day demands.
The trial showed no benefit for the drug on the SRS, but the men who took the drug scored four or five points higher on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales than did those who got the placebo. The improvement reflects a small but clinically significant effect on social interaction and communication, says Federico Bolognani, the Roche investigator who led the trial. It is unclear why the participants showed improvement on this measure but not on the SRS.

Critics jump on ultrasound and autism connection

Ultrasound exams during pregnancy are common. And researchers have now looked at whether a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is more likely among children exposed to this technology in the womb. 
There is no association between the number or duration of prenatal ultrasounds and a later diagnosis of autism in the child, according to a new study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. 
However, the researchers did find a statistical association between deep ultrasound wave penetration during the first and second trimesters and autism.
    "Depth of penetration has to do with the distance between the ultrasound transducer (probe) on the skin and the point at what you're looking at on the ultrasound," said Dr. Jodi Abbott, a co-author of the new study and a physician with Boston Medical Center.

    Conversation Skills for Teens with ASD

    Join Aarti Nair, Ph.D. of the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior for this talk on evidence-based strategies aimed at supporting emerging conversation skills in teens diagnosed with ASD. 

    Mainstream schooling may lead to low self-esteem, isolation

    While mainstream classrooms can help students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learn important social, academic, and communication skills, a new report indicates that these benefits may come at a price in the form of reduced self-esteem and increased isolation.

    The researchers found that many students with ASD internalized the negative attitudes and responses of other students toward them. This, combined with unfavorable social comparisons to their classmates, led to a sense of being “different” and more limited than other students.

    Williams says, “We are not saying that mainstream schools are ‘bad’ for pupils with autism, as other evidence suggests they have a number of positive effects, including increasing academic performance and social skills. Rather, we are suggesting that by cultivating a culture of acceptance of all and making small changes, such as creating nondistracting places to socialize, and listening to their pupils’ needs, schools can help these pupils think and feel more positively about themselves.”

    Read more here.