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:


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Social Thinking Returns to Montana!!

August 17th and 18th, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn - Missoula*

Speaker:  Kari Zweber Palmer

August 17th:

ZOOMING IN: Strategies for Concrete Learners (kinder - young adult)

Delve into the needs of our more literal learners who may have diagnoses such as ASD, ADHD, language learning or sensory integration challenges. They are often perplexed by the abstractions of the school curriculum, show marked difficulty in reading social cues, and are often aloof and less organized. Discover how best to teach individuals based on their age and how to enhance learning in the inclusion-based classroom. Explore lessons that translate abstract social concepts into concrete ideas that can help improve social understanding over time.  Audience members love the many video examples and treatment tools! Read more
What You Will Learn
  1. Describe four core characteristics of Challenged and Emerging Social Communicators and explain why these students struggle to learn social and academic concepts in groups and as a result require different social thinking lessons from Nuance Challenged Social Communicators. 
  2. Develop a lesson for an individual with characteristics of an Emerging Social Communicator. The lesson will include visual support(s) and/or worksheets to translate abstract concepts to more concrete ideas. 
  3. Describe at least one additional treatment approach to use in conjunction with Social Thinking for individuals who function as Challenged and Emerging Social Communicators. 
August 18th:

ZOOMING IN: Strategies for Individuals with Subtle but Significant Social Problems (kinder - young adult)

Explore the needs of nuance-challenged social communicators who may have diagnoses such as Asperger's syndrome, ASD, ADHD, or social anxiety. They are often in mainstream education and struggle with the intricacies of social relationships, homework assignments, and working in peer-based groups. Discover effective strategies that encourage nuanced perspective taking and executive functioning while attending to the person's mental health. Take with you nuance-based social learning lessons for use in both treatment plans and in the mainstream classroom.

What You Will Learn

  1. Describe four core characteristics of those considered to be Nuance Challenged Social Communicators and how to consider those characteristics in group planning. 
  2. Describe how to develop strategies for use in school and home settings, differentiating cognitive behavioral treatment from applied behavior analysis. 
  3. Develop lessons or a group of lessons geared toward students with more nuance-based challenges. The lessons will include the creation of worksheets to translate abstract concepts into more concrete ideas. 
  4. Create a social learning activity that can be used in an inclusion-based learning environment to engage all students in the classroom.
OPI renewal units (6), ASHA CMH (5.5) and SWP/MFT/LAC CEUs (6) per day will be available. 

* A block of rooms will be available at state rate. Contact for more information on this room block. OPI will not pay for lodging. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

The struggle to socialize for families with autism

Many children with autism engage in repetitive behaviors — often called stimming — such as flapping their hands, banging their head, repeating a word or phrase, or repeatedly touching a part of their body. It helps them stay calm in stressful situations. For Oliver, it’s looking at kids out of the corner of his eye and brushing up against them. 
To neurotypical kids and parents, the behaviors can seem strange or even aggressive. 
“Sometimes that would scare the kid so they would go to the parent … and it could turn into an altercation because they don’t understand that he’s autistic,” Carner said. “Because usually with a lot of people it’s judge first, ask questions later.
Tips for parents 
If parents are nervous about taking their child out, OHSU’s Zuckerman recommends they put together a story board where they lay out pictures and tell a story about what’s going to happen. They could even go to the place and take pictures beforehand. 
“They can rehearse it virtually before they actually do it, so that way when the child gets there, they’re not surprised by what it’s like,” she said, adding it’s a good idea to bring the story board along.

Fever During Pregnancy May Increase Autism Odds

Expectant mothers who have a fever during pregnancy are significantly more likely to have a child with autism, new research suggests.
The odds of a child developing autism increased 34 percent in women who came down with a fever at any time during pregnancy. The risk was greatest during the second trimester when a 40 percent bump was observed.
Researchers looked at data on 95,754 kids born in Norway between 1999 and 2009. About 16 percent of mothers reported having a fever at some point during pregnancy and nearly 600 of the children were ultimately diagnosed with autism.
The risk for autism appeared to increase with the frequency of fevers. Women who experienced fevers three or more times after their 12th week of pregnancy had a 300 percent higher chance of having a child with autism, the study found.

Doctors twice as likely to miss girls as boys on autism screen

Pediatricians are failing to identify 80 percent of toddlers who need an evaluation for autism, and are missing nearly twice as many girls as boys. The unpublished results were presented Friday at the 2017 International Meeting for Autism Research in San Francisco, California.
The results are based on the screening of 3,171 toddlers, about half of them girls, using the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) screening tool.
Parents filled out the M-CHAT in 2014 and 2015 after bringing their toddlers to Children’s Mercy Kansas City hospital for well-child visits. Using the completed questionnaires, doctors deemed only 92 of the children as needing an evaluation for autism. But after rescoring these forms, the researchers found that 467 children met the criteria.


Sometimes, algorithms pick up on early signs of disease that humans wouldn't even know to look for. Last week, researchers at the University of North Carolina and Washington University reported an AI that can identify autistic infants long before they present behavioral symptoms. It's a thrilling opportunity: Early detection gives autism neuroscience a big leg up, as researchers try to understand what goes wrong during development. But now clinicians and researchers have to figure out what they’ll do with that information—is it just a research tool, or will they one day begin diagnosing and treating autism before symptoms start? Especially when it comes to infants, it won't be easy to entrust medical care to a computer-generated guess.
In this study, researchers scanned the brains of 59 6 month-olds whose older siblings were already diagnosed with autism. By age two, 11 of those infants had received a diagnosis of autism. By training a machine learning algorithm on their behavior and earlier MRI data, the scientists built a model that predicted 9 of those 11 autism cases, with no false positives. The AI predicted autism around a year before the earliest age—around 14 months—that clinicians diagnose it based on behavior.

So this new information is problematic to use: How can clinicians create an intervention for an infant who mightdevelop autism? All of the researchers interviewed for this story agree that early detection and intervention for autism is better. But current autism therapies for babies and toddlers focus on their specific behavioral deficits—teaching children to communicate needs, to play with toys, and to have positive interactions with caregivers. How do you design a treatment when you don't know what those specific deficits will be?

The Autistic Gardener - A BBC Show

You can watch the episode here.